No PSNI backing for residents’ patrols

Police are urging community groups to register with official neighbourhood watch programmes after a residents’ association claimed to have conducted patrols in Whiteabbey.

Abbeyville Residents’ Association says members have been patrolling the area this month, alleging it is in response to an increase in anti-social behaviour.

Figures released from the PSNI show a decrease in the number of reported anti-social incidents in Newtownabbey this year.

A statement issued on behalf of the Association by chairperson, Emmanuel Mullen and vice chair, Lynsy-Marie Douglas, said: “In light of an upsurge in anti-social behaviour and crime throughout Newtownabbey, we have taken what we and our community feels are the necessary steps to patrol our streets on a nightly basis.

“This is a direct and measured response in relation to the bogus callers and attempted burglaries over the last couple of months.

“Our committee, along with volunteers, will be patrolling the streets of Abbeyville. Those not taking part in the patrols have a responsibility also to be vigilant and look out for one another and report any suspicious activity at once. This is our neighbourhood watch agenda.”

Asked whether the Neighbourhood Watch scheme was set up with the backing of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership or Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, the group added: “No. Members of the community and our committee came together to patrol our streets, to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity and to look out for our vulnerable elderly residents or anyone living on their own.

“Tensions are running high in the area due to the recent incidents that have been occurring. It is the full duty and responsibility of the PSNI to uphold the law, therefore people should phone the police. However, communities also have the responsibility for their neighbourhood.

“Communities need to establish a sense of pride and to be proud of their neighbourhood. Anti-social behaviour needs to be stamped out to pave the way for a peaceful future for the next generation and our elderly. People are happy with the patrols in the area and the patrols will be in place for as long as necessary.”

Responding to the comments, PSNI Inspector Gourley said: “We are aware of ongoing incidents in the Newtownabbey area and are working with all necessary statutory bodies to resolve this. At present we have extra patrols running in the district to cover various district priorities.

“These patrols include covering the Abbeyville / Glenville area. These patrols are proving successful with anti-social behaviour rates falling by 21 per cent from this time last year.

“Newtownabbey PSNI would welcome all community groups/housing associations to come on board with the Antrim and Newtownabbey Council PCSP Neighbourhood Watch Scheme run in conjunction with ourselves.

“We would not encourage groups to patrol their areas on their own. However, we do encourage all groups to report any concerns via 101 or if an emergency 999.”