Banbridge Police say children and young people who are hanging around “anti-social behaviour hotspots” getting drunk are putting themselves in serious danger.
After posting pictures on Facebook of a number of locations where underage drinkers regularly congregate, PSNI Banbridge officers have warned that the town’s anti-social behaviour problem “seems to be escalating”.
“I have personally came across children as young as 14 heavily intoxicated and it is extremely concerning,” one officer posted.
“It may seem like a bit of fun, however drinking alcohol at these places can lead to very serious problems. The derelict factory at Brookfield is not a safe place to be with a lot health and safety risks; sudden steep drops, unstable architecture, broken bottles just to name a few, I struggle to navigate my own way round it with a my torch and heavy duty work boots never mind a 14 year old with a bottle of Frosty Jacks or Bucky in them. Someone is going to get seriously hurt!
“Solitude Park and the river walk have the fast flowing River Bann barrelling through it and it only takes a drunken stumble from the favourite drinking spot under the bridge and you could end up in serious trouble.”
The post continues with an appeal to local parents: “If your kiddies are going out this weekend or even during the week please try your best to ensure that they are not participating in these activities or we could end up at your door having an embarrassing conversation!
“The last thing we want to do is to end up prosecuting your child and giving them a criminal record for being disorderly, assaults or being drunk, but depending on the individual circumstance we may be left with little option.”
Responding to criticism from local residents, including parents of young people, that the police and other agencies aren’t doing enough to tackle the town’s anti-social behaviour problem, the officer added: “I’m going to guess that people may comment that police are not doing enough to put a stop to this behaviour and that there are no police in Banbridge. Trust me WE ARE in Banbridge and WE ARE proactively patrolling these areas and seize alcohol off those who shouldn’t be drinking it, we bring those vulnerable through their drunken state to hospital or back to their parents, we attend schools and other youth organisations and give talks to children, we make referrals and participate in youth engagement programmes with our partners and hold alcohol support programmes for those who fit the criteria.”
Banbridge PSNI have appealed to anyone who witnesses anti-social behaviour to report it by calling 101. Officers are also keen to speak to anyone with specific information or concerns about the ongoing problems in the area.