A Derry mother has said young people who marauded through Rosemount and the Glen ahead of the new term at Magee made life a ‘living hell’ for residents this week.
The PSNI has vowed to deploy extra resources to the area, while Ulster University is briefing new students on the risks of engaging in antisocial behaviour.
The mother-of-two, who asked not to be named, is one of thousands on the Housing Executive waiting list, but she is currently living in temporary accommodation in the area. Speaking to the ‘Journal’ she said the past week has been a ‘nightmare’ and reported running battles, on street-drinking, and rowdiness, that continued from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on a number of nights at the start of this week.
“My children are going to school and I’m going to work in the morning. My husband is going to work. It’s affecting my work life, it’s affecting our family life and our children’s education,” she said.
She said the large concentration of Houses of Multiple Accommodation (HMO) across Rosemount, the Glen and the Strand, attracts a large student population.
This, she said, meant it was not an ideal fit for a family of four like hers.
Her two boys, aged three and 11, have even had to leave the area to stay with relatives on occasions in the past, the antisocial behaviour has been so bad.
“It’s not good enough. My wee boys have to go and stay in their granny’s sometimes during the week and we have to leave the house sometimes during the week. It’s not fair for our family. We have to go and stay somewhere else when it gets really bad.”
She said she understood starting a new life at university or college was an exciting time but insisted longer term residents needed to be respected.
“I understand that they are only young. It’s okay, have a drink or whatever but when they are out fighting in the street to all hours... someone is going to get hurt up there. They are out fighting with each other.”
Inspector Yvonne McManus said: “‘Fresher’s week’ is an exciting time for new students. It is disappointing that we have received a number of reports of antisocial behaviour in the Crawford Square and Argyle Street area this week.
“We are working closely with the community safety wardens and Ulster University. We have deployed additional resources in the area in the evenings for the start of the new university term. We would urge students living off campus to be mindful and considerate of other residents which include families with children and elderly.”
A spokesperson for Ulster University said: “New and returning students are presented with a comprehensive programme of workshops and information sessions to ensure that all students are fully aware of their responsibilities and the risks of engaging in antisocial behaviour.
"Ulster University does not tolerate antisocial behaviour and has robust disciplinary processes in place to deal with any incidences, as and when they are reported to us by the council or the PSNI.
“Our university representatives alongside the Ulster University Students’ Union continue to be active on the ground working closely with the PSNI to support interventions where appropriate.”
A spokesperson for Derry City & Strabane District Council said reports of increased antisocial behaviour in the university area had been received and community safety wardens had stepped up patrols.
They said the council was working with its partners, including the PSNI, Ulster University and local community representatives to find a long-term solution to the issue.