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Sinn Fein call for greater focus on crime prevention

3 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Policing and Justice Spokesperson and Board member, South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey speaking in an Assembly debate on Policing has said that the problem of anti-social behaviour has existed for a long time.

He also called for more time, energy and creativity to be spent on prevention.

Mr Maskey said:

"The outpouring from the general public following the death of Harry Holland has led to a reawakening that there is a need for a policy to which some refer as zero tolerance, although many do not like to use that term.

"One of the heartbreaking facts that emerged after the death of Harry Holland was that a close family friend, who was on the scene shortly after the event, had recently had the misfortune of burying his son, who was run down and killed by death drivers in Belfast. The problem of antisocial behaviour has existed for a long time, and it affects many areas and communities.

"We may have different viewpoints on the deployment of resources, on a zero-tolerance policy, or on the various solutions that should be employed to tackle problems, but I remind members that Harry Holland himself was a strong advocate of supporting young people.

"There are many solutions, but the single message from all parties is that we have - and will have - no toleration for the type of behaviour that resulted in the untimely and tragic death of Harry Holland.

"It is recognised that a variety of solutions must be sought. Proper and appropriate prevention models must be devised. Members have referred to clearance rates. However, when clearance needs to be dealt with, the problem has already been created. Therefore, much more time, energy and creativity must be spent devising prevention models in order to ensure that such activity does not happen in the first instance.

"Society will not tolerate antisocial behaviour. It expects rightly that the wider criminal justice family, not only the police, but the courts, the Probation Board, the Youth Justice Agency and other agencies, will row in behind communities, listen to and respond to them, and deliver a joined-up service." ENDS

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