Northern Ireland news

More than 3,600 items of alcohol recovered and disposed of in Belfast Holylands over five-day period

Police recovered and disposed off more than 3,600 items of alcohol in the Holylands area of south Belfast in a five-day period. Picture by Rebecca Black/PA Wire
Marie Louise McConville

POLICE recovered and disposed of more than 3,600 items of alcohol in the Holylands area of south Belfast in a five-day period.

The items were removed from people who had gathered on the streets of the area between Sunday evening and yesterday morning.

The PSNI also said 12 arrests were made for a number of offences including disorderly behaviour and burglary. A total of 14 community resolution notices were also issued as well as 11 penalty notices for disorderly behaviour.

Four people have also been reported to the Public Prosecution Service.

The figures have been released by police just days before the new university term begins on Monday, which will also see Fresher Week events take place.

PSNI Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick said officers had been contending with "large numbers of mainly young people gathering up in this residential area".

"It is also apparent that young people are travelling to the area from other parts of the city and beyond," he said.

"Far too many people are congregating in the streets of this residential area into the early hours of the morning, disrupting and upsetting local residents".

Mr Kirkpatrick said anyone who has moved to the south Belfast area "must take personal responsibility for their behaviour".

"Residents are fed up and police will robustly address any criminal activity," he said.

"The result could be a young person obtaining a criminal record, which could have far reaching implications for any educational or professional opportunities.

"We are working with Belfast City Council to address on-street alcohol consumption, noise pollution and street cleansing.

"Where appropriate, we will also liaise with the universities and colleges who will consider their own sanctions against any students involved".

Mr Kirkpatrick added: "We have once again increased policing resources dedicated to this area and will be deploying our evidence gathering vehicles throughout the coming weeks, and will continue robustly address any antisocial or criminal behaviour".

Brid Ruddy, a spokeswoman for the Holylands Residents Network, said the area had become "party-land central" and the "law is ill-equipped to deal with it".

Ms Ruddy said one of the main issues is crowd dispersal as there is no law against gathering.

"The issue of a lot of young people milling around in vast numbers," she said.

"The young ones know they are standing there, screaming, gathering in big numbers, drinking on the streets. That's not an offence. So, you wonder how it can be controlled?

"Usually the big thing here is smashing bottles constantly. That's not an offence.

"Agencies just keep repeating `We don't have the legislation' but they have been saying that for 20 years. Why hasn't Stormont passed a new law?".

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