Sunday 19 May 2019 10:09:29 PM

Killyleagh Community Safety Action Plan Launch Welcomed At Public Meeting
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Killyleagh is set to see an exciting community safety and policing action plan rolled out in the coming months.

After  a number of anti-social behaviour incidents over recent years in Killyleagh, many residents responded to a survey by the Down Policing and Community Safety Partnership. Following this, a well-attended meeting was held in the Killyleagh Bridge Centre on Thursday 26 September organised by the Down Policing and Community Safety Partnership to introduce the new community safety action plan to the town.

Local residents heard too about the gloves-off approach being taken by the Neighbourhood Policing team as they will be making parents more accountable for their children’s actions.

At the Down PCSP meeting in the Bridge Centre in Kilyleagh were back rowm Paul Fitzimons, SEELB Youth Leader in Charge, Bronagh Magorrian, NIHE Housing Officer, and fron row, JJ McAllister, NI FRS District Commander, Councillor William Dick, Down PCSP Deputy Chairman, and Eleanor McCartney, Down Council Enforcement Officer.

At the Down PCSP meeting in the Bridge Centre in Kilyleagh were, back row, Paul Fitzimons, SEELB Youth Leader in Charge, Bronagh Magorrian, NIHE Housing Officer, and front row, JJ McAllister, NI FRS District Commander, Councillor William Dick, Down PCSP Deputy Chairman, and Eleanor McCartney, Down Council Enforcement Officer.

At the meeting there was also a call for the community to back the formation of a new community group to help coordinate community affairs and help bring the action plan forward.

Councillor William Dick, DPCSP deputy chairman, introduced the speakers and said: “The aim this evening is to move the Down PCSP action plan forward for Killyleagh. We have rolled out a number of plans in the past in small towns and they have been successful bringing benefits to their communities.”

The Killyleagh action plan will be rolled out over six months and will be flexible in nature addressing several key targets. It will be supported by a strong local publicity campaign and at the end of the period there will an evaluation of the project.

A number of agencies will be involved including the Down PCSP, Down District Council, County Down Rural Community Network, NIHE, SEELB Youth Service, and the PSNI.

DPCSP officer Priscilla McAlinden explained the background to the PCSP and then detailed the Killyleagh action plan to the meeting.

She said: “The Down PCSP can help the Killyleagh community in a number of ways. We have a small grants scheme, a community safety support fund, a community safety network and  Neighbourhood Watch in place to support local communities.

“The Killyleagh action plan emerged from a need to initially address the number of anti-social behaviour (ASB) incidents in the area and a multi-agency approach was adopted. Resources and funds were used to target the key areas to try and address these problems such as littering, dog fouling, graffiti and other issue such as drunken behaviour and vandalism.

“We organised a Killyleagh community survey and were delighted with the 70 per cent response rate. This survey showed up key views and people thought that vandalism, environmental and criminal damage and graffiti were very serious.

“Some of the key perceptions were:dn_screen

* public drinking was a major factor in ASB (77%)

* lack of parental control/family support (77%)

* lack of police action (60%)

* lack of facilities for young people (48%).

“One key figure we uncovered was that 45.7% of people did not report ASB incidents yet 92 % of people thought not enough was being done to combat ASB where they live.”

“We therefore need to encourage a dedicated group in Killyleagh to help bring all of this forward and at the end of it all we will ahve a community celebration.”

Meeting Lends Support To New Action Plan For Killyleagh

Killyleagh based Rowallene Councillor Billy Walker speaking at the meeting said: “I would like to congratulate the Down

PCSP for the work that hey have done it helping to bring this all forward and I welcome the Killyleagh action plan. About four years ago we experienced a lot of anti-social behaviour in Killyleagh and agencies and local people got involved in addressing it.

Some of the attendees at the public meeting in the Bridge Centre in Killyleagh.

Some of the attendees at the public meeting in the Bridge Centre in Killyleagh.

“What is absolutely essential now is that he people of Killyeagh form a new group to bring this forward working with the Down PCSP and other agencies. We need community involvement and support. It worked in Crossgar for example when Councillor Terry Andrews and I were involved in getting finding for a playpark sorted out etc.

“This is an example of what can be done when we all work together. I have been involved in action plans in Crossgar, Shrigley and Saintfield, and there are people in place in agencies such as the NIHE and Youth Service to help us achieve our goals. We therefore need to encourage our residents to work with them to achieve our goals.

‘We have an excellent facility we are in, the Bridge Centre, in Killyleagh and we need this to be available to the young people at times of the week when they need it most, such as Saturday evening. A new group can help bring all of this about, and assist in drawing down funding from different sources.”

Councillor Walker added: “I will be reporting back to Down District Council the depth of feeling at this meeting tonight. We need to get the Bridge Centre opened for our young people especially on a Saturday evening.”

Rowallene Councillor Terry Andrews added: “It’s your future, your say. Other communities in this district have made a success of their action plans. There is a lot of help out here. It may be a slow journey but it will pay dividends.”

A local community volunteer, Karen Keating, who works for the Youth for Christ project, was concerned at police leaving the  area too early. She said: “Police seem to be around until 10pm and leave. The problems start around 11pm onwards. Prevention is certainly better than cure.”

And Mark Quigley, who organises youth soccer in Killyleagh, said: “We do need to send out a message that is is not all young people that are causing these problems, but just a few. Many are happily involved in productive clubs such as in youth soccer.”

Rowallene Neighbourhood Police Sergeant Nigel Donnelly commented on ASB and said: “It is important to address this issue. It is likely that there are no more than 15 individuals causing these problems in Killyleagh and their names have been mentioned.

Ultimately we will have to hold their parents to account.

This will involve  having a crime conference involving the parents, the child, the PSNI and the social workers. A solution to the problem is sought at this level. It is therefore time to more forward and make the parents accountable for their children.

“One case we came across was of a man with a medical condition who was afraid to put on his house lights or look out the window – this case highlights what we are dealing with.

“In relation to calls on having a greater police presence, our part-times are making a considerable commitment in providing cover. More use by the public needs to be made of the confidential telephone Crimestoppers. This would help people to get the message across about reporting their issues more quickly to the police.

The SEELB Youth Service is already active in the Killyleagh area and Paul Fitzsimons, Youth Support Worker in Charge, said: “The question is how do we move forward. To date we have been well supported by local sporting clubs in running events and we could not have achieved this without their help. They have the volunteers and the training. There is a lot going on in Killyleagh at the moment in youth development such as a workshop in sexual health development.

“In the summer we managed a programme for young people with the help of the clubs and over five days each week had trips to Dundonald Ice Bowl etc.”

The role of the NIHE  as one of the key agencies was highlighted when Bronagh Magorrian, Housing Officer, said: “People do not realise actually what sanctions we can impose. In dealing with troublesome youngerers, who we often have to address repeatedly over a long period, we let them know that we can literally take the roof from over their head if the terms of their parents’ tencancy is breached. We certainly need an agency focus in the Killyleagh action plan as many of the same difficult cases are presenting to these agencies at the same time. The key challenge is helping them to reach a point in maturity where they behave more responsibly.”

One speaker at the meeting said that the problems in Killyleagh were “no different from any other area. “We had a meeting in Killyleagh 20 years ago to address similar problems and found funds to help. We spent £1000 on the Bridge Centre and ran soccer events. The police reported then that the incidents in the town had dropped right down that first evening to zero. This is not a policing problem we have in Killyleagh… it is a parental problem.”

Eddie Rea, a former Down District Council chairman, and local resident, said: “The Bridge Centre must be opened up on Saturday evening for our youth. Hopefully our councillors can bring this forward. There are lots of things going on in the town for our young people but there are that difficult group who are causing the problems. Soon we will have an improved CCTV system in the town which will assist in community safety and policing matters. But without a core of good volunteers the will not have progress. It is vital therefor eto support the formation of this new group.”

The Down PCSP took names at the meeting from those interested in forming the new group and this will be progressed in due course.