Historic meeting ‘breaking down barriers’

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The Mayor of Limavady says an “historic” meeting between police and young people from Dungiven is “breaking down barriers”.

Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey was among those who attended the ”Youth Reach” event in the town last week, which attracted more two dozen youths, and a number of their parents.

The two-hour meeting, the “first of its kind”, was hosted by officers from Limavady Rural Neighbourhood Policing Team in partnership with Benbradagh Community Support Group and held at Dungiven library.

Teenagers discussed drugs, alcohol and anti social behaviour and how they are affecting their community, and how each could be tackled.

“I have to say, the turn out was great and it really got young people interacting with police,” Mayor McGlinchey told the ‘Journal’. “The Neighbourhood officers, Mark France and Brian Logue are doing a great job and things are definitely changing, and this is breaking down barriers. I think it’s very easy for people to sit on the fence and criticise, but progress happens in stages and this is a good place to start.”

Colleen Harkin of Benbradagh Community Support said the young people participating had a lot of great ideas on the night.

“People really got into it and it was really enjoyable,” she said, explaining that those participating realise the issues discussed do exist in Dungiven, but no more so that in any other town in the North.

“They obviously think there are issues because they wanted to have their say. We discussed how we could tackle them and how young people can be educated about them. It was really interesting and they all had their chance to say what they think.”

Ms Harkin believes young people know police are there to help.

“It was an engagement event and it was good for the young people to get to know their officers and realise when they see them it’s not because something is wrong; that they’re there to help and Wednesday night confirmed that. It was historic and we hope to do another one soon and make it a regular thing.”

PSNI Area Commander for Limavady, Chief Inspector Sam Donaldson praised the young people for their contribution and their “fantastic suggestions”.

“They also had the chance to meet their local Neighbourhood police officers in person and share their ideas so we can work together as a community to make our streets and neighbourhoods safer,” he said.