With Halloween fast approaching, the sound of bangers and fireworks are starting to echo through the streets.
With that in mind, the Upper Falls Community Safety Forum (UFCSF) is leading the drive to keep people safe this Halloween. There are the usual fears involving the purchasing and handling of fireworks but there are also concerns from local residents, community groups and the emergency services about related anti-social behaviour by young people, including on-street drinking, during the long mid-term break.
Members of the Forum, including representatives from politics, Community Restorative Justice, Andersonstown Neighbourhood Partnership, Belfast City Council, PSNI, Crime Prevention and Fire and Rescue Services have come together to highlight the need for young people in particular to exercise caution during the Halloween season.
PSNI patrols will be increased over the Halloween period and they have warned that anyone acting anti-socially or causing damage over Halloween will face arrest –with the inevitable criminal record – as well as the confiscation of fireworks and alcohol.
"I would urge parents and anyone buying fireworks to purchase them only from outlets that are licensed to sell these products, the licence should be displayed at the outlet,” said Paula Kerr of the UFCSF. “I would also urge local people to be vigilant for our elderly or vulnerable neighbours and check on them over the Halloween period.”
Sinn Féin Councillor and Chairperson of the UFCSF Forum, Matt Garrett, urged all agencies to work together in partnership to combat community safety issues around the Halloween period.
"Halloween is a time of the year where we would encourage people to enjoy the festivities but to do so in a controlled environment,” he said. “In the West Belfast area, many other organisations from within the community sector also organise hugely successful family events. These events offer a safe environment for families to come together and enjoy Halloween. We would encourage people to come to these events. Unfortunately, each year we hear stories where young people have been injured by the unsupervised use of fireworks. We don't want to see anyone injured of maimed and therefore would again encourage people to enjoy the festivities in a safe and controlled environment.”
The UFCSF has invited all residents to attend a Community Safety Event at Glen Community Centre in Carrigart Avenue today from noon to 3pm.
Anyone with concerns about community safety can contact Community Restorative Justice, Andersonstown, on 90 301521.