Security review under way for St Columb's Park
A security review is under way in St. Columb's Park and surrounding areas following reports of attacks and anti-social behaviour over the past week.
Talks involving politicians, council representatives and the PSNI yesterday, after which it emerged that a heightened police presence will continue over the coming weekends following incidents over the past week and fears over an escalation in tensions and sectarian attacks.
On Thursday night police attended “a gather-up of people in the Bond’s Street” area to monitor activity and gather evidence which is now being reviewed. Prior to this, police responded to reports of an altercation between a group of people in the Ebrington Square/Limavady Road area shortly after 11pm on Tuesday last. One male was cautioned for disorderly behaviour, while an investigation is under way. There have also been reports that a youth wearing a Northern Ireland top was chased through St. Columb’s Park.
PSNI Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said yesterday: “Police are just one of a number of partners working together to find solutions to these issues and we welcome any and all positive input from those with influence in the community.”
Speaking after meeting with the PSNI yesterday, DUP Foyle MLA Gary Middleton said: “We have received a commitment from the PSNI that they will keep St Columb’s Park on their priority list and ensure they will have significant and additional resources over the coming weekends.”
Mr. Middleton said efforts were now needed to secure a long term solution. “We want people from all areas, cityside and Waterside, to have access and enjoy the park. We don’t want it to be used as a drinking den and for that to escalate into violence,” he said. “Tensions need to be diffused. The last thing we want is to see anyone seriously injured or killed.”
Council officers have now met with the PSNI and community representatives. A spokesman said: “At a meeting of full council a motion was passed by elected representatives to address the rise in anti-social behaviour around the council’s parks and recreational facilities by collaborating with the relevant government departments and engaging the additional skills and expertise of youth workers at these venues. Council is undertaking a review of security at St. Columb’s Park in light of the recent incidents of anti-social behaviour and would urge the public to exercise extra vigilance when using the park and report any incidents of anti-social behaviour to Park Wardens or the PSNI.”