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Housing bodies need to act on anti-social behaviour

7 October, 2009 - by Fra McCann

Fra McCann MLA for West Belfast has written to the Housing Executive and Housing Associations to ask what measures they are taking to deal with tenants whose children are continuously involved in vandalism of properties which has left many neighbourhoods suffering from levels of disrepair.

Speaking today Mr McCann said:

“As agencies who are centrally involved with housing in or neighbourhoods both the Housing Executive and Housing Associations have a duty of care and responsibility to residents who are tortured and terrorised children as young as 9 years of age who destroy the fabric of areas without any sanction.

“Some of the parents are well aware of the children’s activities but refuse to deal with their behaviour. However the housing authorities are also aware of their behaviour and the identities of those involved but have refused to draw up a comprehensive strategy to tackle this issue.

“There needs to be a zero tolerance regarding these anti-community activities. Those who carry out such activities, or if they are minors, their parents or guardians should be forced to pay the cost of the damage. In the case of a parent or parents who refuse to tackle their children and their behaviour then they should have there tenancy challenged to ensure future good behaviour.

“There are also older youths who wreck estates during the night and sleep all day. Both the housing authorities and the police need to pursue them and make them answerable for the damage they cost. One example of this was the destruction of an electric box in the Falls area which was blown up by a fire work which knocked electric off in hundreds of homes.

“I have raised with the Minister of Social Development the issue of anti social powers the Housing Executive have to deal with these issues and she assured me that they have enough powers at present to deal with all eventualities. If this is the case then we need to see action

“This type of activity is wide spread, it brings the name of young people in areas into disrepute despite this behaviour being down to a small minority. This behaviour impacts on the quality of life of residents of all ages in our communities and should not be accepted.

“While statutory agencies, community groups and local representatives are meeting on a weekly basis to deal with this issue it is now time for the Housing Executive and Housing Associations to step up to the mark and enforce the powers they have. Currently these powers are used more for non payment of rent rather than damage to property or for the benefit of the communities affected.”

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