A WEST Belfast councillor has hit out at parents after over one hundred youths gathered at a Twinbrook building site on Saturday night causing destruction and havoc.
Large crowds of teenagers began gathering at around 8pm on Saturday evening at the community hub beside the Dairy Farm.
Speaking to the Andersonstown News, Daniel Baker, Sinn Féin councillor for the Colin area said: “Saturday was the first good evening of the year, kids began gathering early enough, then the crowd got bigger and bigger and at around 11pm there were over one hundred of them and things very quickly got out of hand.
“They were going mad on the building site and they set fire to a set of traffic lights at the top of the Stewartstown Road, they were abusing residents, once the police arrived a bit of a riot kicked off and the next thing the helicopter was out.
“We have the Easter holidays approaching and hopefully we are coming into better weather, so my message to parents is this: know where your kids are.”
Cllr Baker continued: “Last night (Sunday) crowds gathered again towards the river path, this isn’t good enough and it needs stopped immediately, parents need to start taking responsibility for their kids, we are already at full stretch.
“Colin is such a big area, we need parents on board here. A lot of these kids aren’t from the area, on one hand it’s great that kids have a bit more freedom than we did, but it becomes a problem when 120 of them gather and madness kicks off.”
Inspector Keith Hutchinson said: “Earlier in the evening (Saturday), community representatives had tried to disperse a group of more than 70 young people who had gathered in a wooded area in the Dairy Farm and were drinking alcohol and playing music.
“They then started to throw pieces of masonry at nearby houses and as police attended the disturbance in two Land Rovers, a crowd of youths surrounded one of the vehicles and attacked it. Damage was caused to a second Land Rover which had its wing mirrors pulled off. Bottles and bricks from a nearby building site were then also thrown at them.
“The crowd set fire to nearby traffic lights before police restored order to the area.
“A short time later, in the Laurelbank area, a 17-year-old male was arrested on suspicion of a number of offences including riotous behaviour, attempted criminal damage and assaulting police. As officers attempted to make the arrest, they were attacked by a large crowd which attempted to free the apprehended youth. As a result, an officer received cuts and bruising to his face.
“While young people have every right to enjoy each other’s company, I would just like to remind them that what might initially seem like fooling about can sometimes get out of hand and end up in a criminal record which can affect travel, education and employment opportunities in the future. It is really important that young people understand this.
“Anyone with any information or with general concerns regarding anti-social behaviour should contact police on 101.”