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Latest Woodlands incident underlines need for commitments to be followed up

24 April, 2009

Balmoral Sinn Féin representative Vincent Parker has said that the theft of around £300, credit cards and mobile phones from changing rooms at Woodlands Playing Fields on Wednesday night highlights the urgent need for the measures agreed by Belfast City Council, the GAA and the PSNI to deal with anti-social behaviour at the Park to be implemented without delay.

Mr Parker said, “On Wednesday night around £300, a number of credit cards and mobile phones were stolen from the changing rooms at Woodlands Playing Fields. The theft took place during a GAA game, with the contents being stolen from the players’ changing rooms by anti-social elements.

“This type of anti-social activity is not new to Woodlands. Indeed, only a few weeks ago I arranged a meeting between local residents, the GAA, Belfast City Council and the PSNI to discuss how the Park could be better secured to ensure that it did not attract anti-social elements.

“The outcome of that meeting was positive in that a number of points were agreed upon. Among the points agreed were:

∑ GAA will consult with clubs and the Antrim County Board about providing stewards in high visibility jackets at gates on nights that they use the park.

∑ Belfast City Council will look at providing support for the GAA stewards from the community safety wardens, and will look at using the wardens over the summer on the problem nights.

∑ PSNI will increase patrols in the early evening and nights that problems are anticipated, and around the nights that the park is used most.

∑ Belfast City Council will lock the pedestrian gate at 8.30pm every night. This has been the biggest problem for residents. A sign is to be placed outside the park with the new closing time. It had previously be accessible 24 hours a day. The GAA will lock the main gates after use.

∑ Belfast City Council will complete a Designing Out Crime survey on the interior and entrance of Woodlands to see if any physical changes can be made e.g. the turning circle and the area just inside the gates seem to be where the majority of the drinkers stand. This can be changed to make it less appealing.

∑ Belfast City Council will consider literature to advise of the new closing time and advise on the penalties for trespassing after closing time.

∑ Belfast City Council's anti-social behaviour unit will visit local schools in South and West Belfast and discuss Woodlands, and advise to the new arrangements and penalties.

∑ PSNI to improve response when called by residents. “This latest incident can only be described as despicable, and it underlines the need for all of the points which were agreed to be implemented without delay. It is my intention to now follow up with all of those who agreed to these commitments and ensure that they are moving to swiftly implement them”. CRÍOCH

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