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Sinn Féin DPP representatives meet Down Policing Commander

21 April, 2008

Sinn Féin South Down MLA Willie Clarke and Councillor Mickey Coogan, both of whom are DPP members, on Friday met with the Area PSNI Commander Brian Hanna to explore the potential for a number of schemes to combat anti-social behaviour and crime across Down District.

Councillor Coogan speaking after the meeting said:

"For several months now, there has been considerable anti-social behaviour in the Loughside Drive/Windmill Avenue area of Ballynahinch. During that period I have been working with the PSNI, Down Council and the Housing Executive to try and reduce the impact this is having on the local community with limited success.

"I want to see increased co-ordination and the development of multi-agency approach working closely with the local community to address the problems in the area once and for all.

"This includes intensive policing with increased patrols that will target street drinkers, vandalism and drug users. It should also involve the Council tackling illegal dumping and prosecuting those responsible; a council clean up of its facilities, for example at Lough Park and Windmill Hill; and Council support for community ownership.

"The Housing Executive must also act to ensure that their tenants are not abusing the terms of their lease agreements and that communal properties are maintained and secured.

"The community also have a responsibility to report crime, anti-social behaviour and those abusing the area to the relevant authorities."

Cllr Clarke, speaking about similar issues affecting Newcastle said:

"These same problems are having a devastating impact in the Dunwellan Park area of Newcastle and my hope is that if we employ the same methods, with the same intensity as those proposed in Ballynahinch, we can begin the process of reclaiming housing estates for the residents who live there.

"In putting forward these proposals, we recognise that the same issues effect almost every town and village throughout the District, but we believe that by selecting a number of specific areas for an intense campaign we can begin to restore confidence in the community."

Councillor Coogan concluded:

"The meeting with the PSNI District Commander was constructive and there was agreement that he will bring these proposals to the other agencies to map out workable action plan that will see all agencies liaising closely to ensure the best possible results. Extending this programme to cover the Model Farm area of Downpatrick was also discussed and it is hoped that the programme can be rolled out simultaneously." ENDS

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