‘Innovative’ project tackles anti social behaviour

“Anti-social behaviour can make a really big mess of your life as this DVD will show,” says a teenage girl, looking straight at the camera.

Seconds later the same girl is hanging out with friends in Limavady, drinking and shouting abuse at an older couple out for a walk.

The situation escalates and the police are called. The girl’s friend starts to act the hard man with the police and, in a flash, the situation spirals out of control. She stands back as the teen is arrested for disorderly behaviour and assaulting police. He winds up in the police custody suite, possibly facing a conviction with lifetime implications.

Some time later the same girl appears again, solemnly saying behaviour has consequences and “”life is what you make it”.

Fortunately the situation is not real. The girl and her friends are actors who participated in an “innovative” project - Changes in a Flash - designed to address anti social behaviour.

Named by seven youths and seven older people who participated in the project, the DVD was created during a six-week long course to educate both generations about anti-social behaviour through the medium of photography and see its impact on the community and victims and the economy. The joint project was funded by Limavady PSNI neighbourhood policing team, the Be Safe Be Well program and Limavady Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership.

“Anti-social behaviour is an issue which is of concern to most people and it was important to get an understanding of what it actually is,” said PSNI Inspector Jennifer Hudson.

“This project is the start of an engagement process to build community confidence in our ability to deal with anti-social behaviour and for the community to understand what anti-social behaviour is and break down the barriers between generations.”

Be Safe Be Well project co-ordinator, Catherine Walsh said the group was delighted to be involved.

“Intergenerational work is key to the outcomes of the Be Safe Be Well program, as is the need to reduce the fear of crime for older people and make younger people feel safe in their own communities.””

Chair of Limavady Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership, Debbie Mills said tackling anti social behaviour is a key objective.

“The participation therefore of residents from the residents areas in the project complements our strategy and we welcome the innovative approach taken by this project to increase the younger people’s knowledge of anti social behaviour,” she said.

The DVD was created to ensure the project continues and is being rolled out as an educational tool to as many schools, community and youth centres as possible to get people talking about what police say is a major issue and a top priority.

The total cost to Be Safe Be Well of the ‘Changes In A Flash’ DVD was £2,500. There was also funding from the PSNI and Limavady Borough Council – Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership.

For information call Be Safe Be Well on (71) 338125.

See photos of the launch on page 47.