A new community group has formed to tackle anti-social behaviour and drug and alcohol misuse in the Galliagh area of Derry.
The group, which is called Galliagh Community Empowerment, launched their Facebook page two weeks ago and more than 3,000 people have ‘liked’ it.
In one of the most recent posts on the page, two young men are clearly identified and accused of endangering the lives of “our children by joy riding in stolen or cheaply bought car”.
Last week, the group met near the Meadows before walking through the Galliagh estate. The PSNI monitored the gathering.
Independent Derry City and Strabane District Council (D.C.S.D.C.) Councillor, Warren Robinson, helped to set-up the group and stressed a desire to address anti-social behaviour in Galliagh through nonviolent means.
“Over the last three or four months the people of Galliagh have noticed a massive spike in drug misuse - we now have heroin on our streets,” said Colr. Robinson.
“There’s also been a spike in young people committing creeper style burglaries and joy riding.
“A lot of the people I represent say they have also noticed a severe lack of anyone doing anything about - so that’s how Galliagh Community Empowerment has come about,” he added.
Colr. Robinson defended the group’s decision to name and shame alleged criminals on the Facebook page.
“There appears to be a revolving door at Strand Road police station and at Bishop Street courthouse.
“If you steal a car or you’re caught joy-riding there’s a really good chance you’ll be out in a few hours - it’s become a real insult to the community.”
The Galliagh Community Empowerment group have organised a similar walk through the estate on Friday and Colr. Robinson encouraged as many people as possible to come along.
“I can’t stress this enough - we want to take our streets back through nonviolent means.
“The reason political activists and residents have got involved with the group is because they feel let down,” he added.
The PSNI empathised with residents but said there could be no justification for any group or individuals “taking the law into their own hands”.
“Anti-social behaviour can be a blight on any area and can seriously affect the quality of life of residents,” said Chief Inspector Alan Hutton.
“Police are aware of the complaints of anti-social behaviour in the Galliagh area of Derry/Londonderry and we are working closely with our partner agencies, Community Safety Teams and Community Safety Wardens in order to address this issue.
“Local neighbourhood teams will also increase their patrols as appropriate in the area to address the issue.”
Chief Inspector, Hutton, said the PSNI was the only the “legitimate police service” in the North and called on local residents to report anti-social behaviour to the police.
“The PSNI is the only legitimate police service in Northern Ireland. We, and other statutory partners, are the ones tasked by local people to protect them. We are the ones held accountable by them.
“While I can understand some people’s frustration I would caution any individual or group against taking the law into their own hands. We have good links with all community organisations across the Galliagh area and we work with them in tackling issues of concern.”
Chief Inspector Hutton continued: “I would also ask local residents who are aware of anti-social behaviour in their area to contact their neighbourhood policing team on 101 and let us know. Alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111. It is only with information from the local community that we can build an accurate picture of the issues and concerns in your neighbourhood and put an appropriate response in place.”