By Ciara Quinn

RESIDENTS of a West Belfast street say they are a “under siege” from crowds of teenagers running amok during the summer holidays.
Worried locals told the Andersonstown News that crowds of up to 150 youths are gathering from early afternoon until late at night to drink, take drugs and even have sex on land at the back of their homes, with little or no help coming from the PSNI. One resident, who did not want to be named, said she regularly finds drug paraphernalia near her home along with broken beer bottles, used condoms, sanitary towels and cider bottles.
‘The trouble really escalated on Monday night, it was like something out of Braveheart as the crowd surged into the cul-de-sac here,” she said. “They ran into the street intent on attacking homes. If we dare ask them to move on we get called all the names under the sun.
“Due to all the drinking the crowds are using the walkway as a toilet and one actually urinated on my dog. The PSNI are doing nothing about this – we’ve renamed them the Police Service: Not Interested. We were phoning the police from 5.30pm on Monday night and the trouble was going on until well past 10.30pm. When they do come out the young ones are standing taking selfies with them and posting them to social media pages like Facebook – we know as we’ve seen them.
“The crowds are coming from as far away as Ardoyne, Ballymurphy, New Lodge and Lenadoon. The ones that were chased from Woodside in Poleglass are now coming here. It’s complete madness and people are feeling hemmed in their homes. We have young children and elderly people in the area, basically people are even afraid to go to the shops and it’s just a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt.”
Local Sinn Féin Councillor Charlene O’Hara said to date the PSNI’s response to the crowd trouble has been “ineffective”.
“On Tuesday night I watched as up to 120 young people gathered at the back of Glasvey – there was a mix of ages from 12 to 18,” she said. “There was loud music being played, attempts to set things on fire and the throwing of empty beer bottles on to the main footpath, I even saw one young girl being carried home by friends. It’s completely disgraceful and this situation has got completely out of hand.
“Immediate action needs to taken – we have residents feeling besieged in their own homes. The PSNI’s response I feel has been ineffective. We will be meeting with them today [Wednesday] to discuss how we deal with this rise in anti-community behaviour. Speaking to a number of young people last night they said they feel they have no where to go and whilst our youth services are stretched to capacity providing summer programmes I feel there is an onus on the relevant agencies to ensure that facilities for young people are accessible to them.”
“A plan of action will be in place by the weekend,” said community safety officer Michael George, “we have been dealing with the issue of Glasvey Close for over ten years now and we are dealing with a parental problem here. Parents need to take into account where their children are, who they are with. Parents need to be made aware that their child could be arrested for their actions and we all need to work together. Everyone needs to be singing off the same hymn sheet.”
A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “Police are aware of the issues in the Glasvey area in recent nights and have had cause to attend on a number of occasions. Additional patrols will be put in place in the coming days as part of our response to this ongoing issue. It is important to note that many of the young people are out playing football and behaving responsibly.
“However, we acknowledge there is an element that are drinking alcohol and making life miserable for local residents. Neighbourhood officers for the area will continue to work with the community to address these issues.”

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