11/03/2010

Holyland Gets CCTV For St Pat's Day

Just days ahead of St Patrick's Day - which last year descended into a near riot in the Holyland area of south Belfast - a CCTV pilot scheme has been revealed.

The initiative, led by Belfast City Council and jointly funded by a number of partner agencies is aimed at helping to reduce anti-social behaviour as well as reducing crime and fear of crime in the Holyland.

Councillor Pat McCarthy, Chairman of the Health and Environmental Services Committee, said: "These plans have been in the pipeline for some time and I'm delighted to be here today to see how real partnership working has delivered, helping to create a Safer Belfast for all.

"The issues associated with the university area, and the Holyland in particular, have been well documented and the launch of this scheme shows the commitment of Belfast City Council and its partners to work together and pool resources to find practical solutions, and deliver tangible results for residents and the wider community."

The Holyland area has been chosen to pilot the CCTV cameras and the scheme will then be reviewed after a year, with a view to possibly deploying them in other parts of the city.

As well as helping to tackle anti-social behaviour, it is hoped the scheme will also go some way to addressing alcohol-related crime and hate crime.

The cameras will be managed by Belfast City Council and monitored by the PSNI on a 24/7 basis.
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The launch comes ahead of next week's St Patrick's Day celebrations and joint efforts to ensure this year's festivities pass off peacefully and with minimum disruption to residents.

PSNI South Belfast Area Commander Chief Inspector Trevor O'Neill said the CCTV cameras would be a very effective tool in addressing crime and issues such as on-street drinking and anti-social behaviour which had been plaguing the area.

SDLP South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell said the new CCTV initiative was an important step forward in curbing the public order problems which have plagued the Holylands area for too long.

"This is something I have been working on for years and I am very pleased to see such an extensive scheme going into action.

"The situation in the Holylands is quite complex and we should be wary of anyone proposing sweeping or simplistic solutions, but there can be no question that basic protection of the permanent residents and their quality of life must be our primary concern.

"Swift apprehension of troublemakers is obviously very important in this respect and the CCTV scheme will help do that," he said.

"We also have to recognise that the majority of students who live in the area are themselves also victims of the rowdies, and I welcome the greater engagement of the universities on behalf of the wider student body.

"However, in the last analysis they have the primary ownership of this problem and they must use all the disciplinary powers at their disposal to solve it," the SDLP politician concluded.

(BMcC/GK)

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