The number of police call-outs to deal with anti-social behaviour episodes in Derry has dropped dramatically, new figures released this afternoon have shown.
Foyle police call outs in the year to the start of April 2014 have seen a massive drop of almost 900 compared to the previous year, the Area Commander has said.
Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said this was the largest decrease of any policing area in Northern Ireland.
Police officers took almost 2,000 cans and bottles of alcohol were taken off under age drinkers over the past year, while the number of penalty notices for disorder issued by police has quadrupled to over 400.
In the 2012/13 financial year, 5,462 incidents were reported to police.
In the 12 months to March 31st 2014, 4,571 had been reported, a fall of 16.%.
Chief Inspector Burrows said the results demonstrated a commitment towards neighbourhood policing, and tackling priority issues identified by local communities.
He said: “We have worked hard not only to proactively patrol areas, but to bring communities along with us and encourage them to sign up to initiatives that tackle the root causes of anti-social behaviour.
“I am under no illusions that anti-social behaviour is regarded by many as a scourge. It takes many shapes. It can range from young people playing noisily with a ball close to the homes of elderly people, to alcoholic-fuelled parties that lead to disturbances.
“We believe that people having consideration for others is crucial. That is why we encourage people from differing backgrounds to get together, and encourage community and social groups to provide alternative outlets.
“Our neighbourhood officers are in schools right across the city talking to children and young people about good citizenship, respect and their personal safety.”
Mr Burrows said that overindulgence in alcohol is an issue that we are tackling.
“In 2013/14, we seized 1,800 items of alcohol from young people and those drinking in designated alcohol-free areas,” he said, adding:
“The alcohol we seize is destroyed and our responses can range from taking young people home to their parents up to recommending prosecution under the street-drinking bye-laws. I am pleased to say that Derry City Council has been very supportive.”
He also warned: “There is a range of disposals for anti-social behaviour. In the most serious of cases we will prosecute. However, we recognise that a conviction for disorderly behaviour can impair the future of young people, and we have other disposals, which includes Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs).
“In 2013/14 we issued 405 PNDs – that is four times the total of the previous financial year. These are a proportionate use of our policing responsibilities.
“We have continued to develop excellent problem solving partnerships with a diverse range of partners, including voluntary groups, the PSCP and other statutory partners.
“It is the police working in partnership that makes communities safer and not the so-called vigilantes who only succeed in brutalising young people and damaging confidence in our city.
“The huge reduction in anti-social behaviour will make a difference to communities right across this city and we will continue to work in partnership to reduce crime and make people safer.”