Police have called on parents to be “more intrusive” about what their children are getting up to after youths engaged in a string of arson incidents, joyriding and attacks on emergency services across Galliagh.
Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) meanwhile said they now plan to raise the wave of anti-social crime with Youth Justice, Social Services and other bodies at a meeting on community safety on Monday.
This comes after a rapid response paramedic car was targeted yesterday afternoon, less than 24 hours after fire and rescue service personnel were attacked by stone throwing youths as they arrived to deal with a car set alight outside a shop.
A spokesman for the Ambulance Service said they were on route to Ederowen Park to tend to a man experiencing breathing difficulties at around 12 noon, when four youths began hurling missiles towards the vehicle, just missing it.
On Wednesday, several residents reported a group of youths joyriding through the area in a silver Citroen before it was torched close to the Spar shop (known locally as ‘the Co-op’) on Fairview Road.
When fire-fighters arrived to deal with the blaze they were forced to withdraw after coming under attack.
There were also reports of a number of vehicles being vandalised earlier this week. Speaking about the issues, CRJ Outer North co-ordinator Martin Connolly said the groups working on the ground will be monitoring the situation.
He said: “We are concerned at the fact that they are able to get hold of these cars - who is buying the cars for them? And where are they getting them?
“We will have the Community Safety meeting on Monday and this will be high on the agenda. We will be taking it up with the relevant agencies and urging them to get their act together.” PSNI Chief Inspector Ivor Morton, meanwhile, described the attack on the fire brigade as “a disgrace.”
He said: “I would appeal to parents be more intrusive into where their children are and what they are getting up to – some of these young people may not have a licence or the insurance to be driving a car in the first place and the reality is someone will end up getting very seriously hurt or injured.”
Chf. Insp. Morton added: “I would like to thank the community in Galliagh for their support over the last number of months as officers have been working very hard to deal with the car crime issue in the area with a good degree of success.
“We are taking dangerous cars off the road and identifying those drivers who are putting the community at risk.
“Can I ask that local residents continue to report any incidents of dangerous driving in the area as we are just as keen to get these run-arounds off the streets?
“Can I also ask that car owners think twice before selling a vehicle for £50 or £100, particularly to younger drivers? Chances are it will end up being rallied around the streets, could possibly be involved in a collision and, if not, end up burnt out and left lying in your neighbourhood.”
The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service warned that incidents such as the scenario that unfolded at Fairview Road on Wednesday night were “socially unacceptable.”
A spokesperson said: “Thankfully there were no injuries to firefighters and whilst no damage was caused to the appliance, we would appeal to the local community not to threaten or attack Firefighters responding to emergency calls.
“These attacks are not only socially unacceptable but they can be detrimental to the whole community if Firefighters or appliances are hindered in any way when responding to emergency calls.”
Staff at the Spar shop on Fairview Road were force to close early due to smoke from the car fire, which was then deliberately reignited in the early hours of yesterday. Some residents took to the streets to protest earlier on Wednesday evening over the antics of the joyriders.
Independent Councillor Warren Robinson said the incident was “simply the latest in a series over recent nights,” adding: “There is no place within Galliagh for those intent on wrecking the area.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Elisha McCallion said those responsible had put lives at risk and branded the culprits “thugs” who were “death-driving around the area”.
She said: “The residents of the greater Galliagh area are fed up with the antics of this minority element and demand that they cease this activity before there is a fatality or serious injury.”
SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney meanwhile said: “These people need to think about how their actions affect the local community and stop this behaviour.”