Anti-social behaviour is reaching worrying levels in the Newtownabbey area, according to a councillor and police are to increase patrols.
In fact, an ‘emergency meeting’ was held on April 24 in an attempt to address alleged drug use and under age drinking in the Monkstown area which has been named as a ‘blackspot’.
The meeting, which was attended by interested parties including councillors, community representatives and the PSNI, focused on recent incidents in the district including up to 60 young people gathering in the Cashel Drive area.
Residents claim the group is made up of children aged between 10 and 16, with many of the young people said to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Cllr Stephen Ross believes parents need to be aware of what their children are up to.
Speaking to the Times, the Threemilewater Democratic Unionist representative said he had received complaints from local business people.
Cllr Ross said: “Young people have been gathering outside business premises and around the Newtownabbey Way recently. These kids, many of whom are from outside the area, are aged between late primary school and 16 and it is distressing that a lot of them appear to be involved in underage drinking and drug use.
“I’d ask parents to be mindful of what their children are doing and to educate their kids on the dangers of drug abuse. The parents must see the state their children are coming home in and be aware of the fact they’ve been drinking. It’s disturbing some parents appear to be turning a blind eye.”
He added: “Young people need to realise that drugs kill. Drugs such as tramadol and cannabis are readily available and there are people happy to sell them to the young people of our community.
“Monkstown Boxing Club and Abbey Community College are actively trying to provide activities for the young people to do and they should be praised for the efforts they’re making.”
Police have said patrols will be stepped up in the region to tackle the problem. Sergeant Boyd said: “Police are aware of a trend where large groups of young people gather in particular areas, especially at weekends. We’ve received a number of reports of anti-social behaviour happening in and around the same times.
“Officers are continuing to work alongside Antrim and Newtownabbey PCSP, councillors and statutory agencies in tackling the problem – and we are increasing patrols in key areas. We’re working with the young people themselves through a programme of engagement and where appropriate, enforcement, to help reach a satisfactory conclusion to this issue.”