By Gráinne Brinkley

ON-STREET drinkers in Poleglass using electricity from street lighting to power music systems have been warned they are taking their lives in their hands. The warning comes after several street lights outside the Sally Gardens Community Centre were vandalised after the inspection panels were removed and internal wiring used to help soundtrack anti-social gatherings.

Another street lamp targeted in the Glenkeen area on March 31 resulted in the arrest of an 18-year-old man who was subsequently referred for prosecution in relation to the incident.

Martin Connolly, manager of Sally Gardens Community Centre, said he was concerned by the health and safety implications the dangerous practice could have for the local area, particularly at night time.

“Over the past year the destruction of street lighting has been an ongoing problem in the laneway approaching Sally Gardens Community Centre,” he said.

“Local residents are having to endure the impact of street drinking and this associated anti-social behaviour. Considering the imminent opening of a long-awaited play park in Sally Gardens I would appeal for those involved to think about their actions and the negative impact this is causing the wider community.”

Michael George, centre chairperson, said the practice posed an “obvious threat to life”.

“It also threatens access to the centre as it’s left in complete darkness for our volunteers and young people using the centre at night,” he said.

“This is clearly impacting on the service we provide for the community, something those involved need to think seriously about.”

Local PSNI Inspector Mark Robinson said: “This is an extraordinarily dangerous and foolhardy thing to do. It may seem like a good laugh to use the street lighting to power sound systems out in the street in this way but those involved are literally taking their lives in their hands.

“By interfering with inspection panels they are interfering with unknown voltages and complicated wiring systems that could easily kill.

“By their irresponsible behaviour those involved are also placing the lives of other young people in danger. Leaving inspection panels removed with live electrical wiring exposed could have very serious consequences if a young child placed their hands inside. I would urge the young people involved to stop, and stop now, before we’re facing a tragedy.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Regional Development, who have responsibility for street lighting, said: “Electrical equipment and components within street lights are dangerous. Anyone deliberately tampering with the locked access door, which guards this equipment, is putting themselves at risk of serious injury, or death.”

Anyone with information relating to interference with street lighting is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000.

 

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