An emergency meeting has been called involving the PSNI and local groups in a bid to clamp down on crime in the lower Falls area.

A gang of youths – led by  known prolific offenders – are creating havoc in the streets around Albert Street and are causing a major headache for people trying to go about their daily business.

The gang has set fire to bins at the Maureen Sheehan Centre, broken into cars and homes and have stolen equipment from contractors working in the district.  Many of the crimes are taking place in broad daylight, leading locals to wonder how the thugs, aged between 10 and 17, are able to get away with it.

Sinn Féin Councillor for the area, Jim McVeigh, has called time on criminality in the district.

“The fire was the latest in a long line of vandalism, threats and intimidation in this area,” he said.  “It’s the same hardcore group behind these attacks.  Some of them are well-known, some of their families are well-known, and I believe a lack of parental supervision is party to blame when you consider some of these kids are as young as 10.

“They have created at atmosphere of fear and people are afraid to challenge them or intervene.

“We have called an emergency meeting with the police about the attacks on a community facility like the Maureen Sheehan Centre and attacks on homes and other types of crime.  Some individuals are engaging in this behaviour day and daily and it’s time everyone stepped up to the mark to resolve it.

“I think families should be held to account, even if the Housing Executive has to put them on warning if they don’t act responsibly.

“What is clear is that this kind of harassment and intimidation cannot continue.”

The meeting is expected to take place within the next few weeks.