PARK wardens are to be deployed in the Falls Park in an attempt to curb an increase in anti-social behaviour.

At the People and Communities Committee, councillors agreed that the Falls Park should be added to the Council's Park Warden programme. The pilot initiative, which is supported by the Safer Neighbourhood Officers and the PSNI, has seen park wardens in place for the past seven months in Dunville Park and Pairc Nua Chollan on the Stewartstown Road as well as Woodvale Park in North Belfast.

Since the start of the pilot there has been a 26 per cent decrease in anti-social behaviour reported overall at the three parks when compared to the same months the year previous (September to February).

The committee heard that reports of anti-social behaviour in the Falls Park are up from 51 per cent to 66 per cent.

Given the positive impact of the pilot programme at the other parks and the ongoing issues in the Falls Park, members were asked to consider extending the pilot to cover the Falls Park and to increase the number of static wardens to three.

Following a vote, members of the committee agreed to extend the pilot until the end of the September 2024 and agreed that Falls Park is included as an additional site for the pilot.

The Andersonstown News recently reported on a mass gathering and underage drinking in the Falls Park, which led to the arrests of 12-year-old and a 14 year-old.

Sinn Féin councillor Michael Donnelly said he has "no doubt" the park wardens will make a difference in the Falls Park. Speaking after the proposal was approved by Committee, Councillor Donnelly said: "The Falls Park is a smashing resource in our community.

"Hundreds, if not thousands, attend the park on a weekly basis when we include the volume of GAA clubs, soccer clubs, park runners, dog walkers and families who use it. 

"It is a massive jewel in the crown of West Belfast but in recent weeks there has been an increase in anti-social behaviour.

"Dedicated park wardens will now be employed in the Falls Park which will no doubt have a positive impact on reducing the levels of anti-social behaviour working in partnership with other council resources, our amazing and dedicated youth workers, community workers and other service providers to allow our park to flourish fully."