Society in Ballymena is groaning under the intolerable pressure of stress and strain caused to law-abiding citizens by those who indulge in anti-social behaviour, says Paul Frew, the DUP MLA for North Antrim.
In an extremely hard-hitting statement prompted, he says, by a decade of battling against those who make life a misery for others, Mr. Frew contends that either public agencies such as the local PSNI, Ballymena Council and the Housing Executive do not take such matters seriously enough to use all power at their disposal or that the laws to enable them to deal with anti social behaviour ‘need tightened up’ to combat what he termed ‘this curse’ more speedily.
Mr. Frew said: “ I have been dealing with anti social behaviour over the last 10 years and one thing I’m sure of is that this curse is getting worse and affecting more areas and people. This can affect any area - no matter class or creed. I have been working with several of the community groups who also find this to be a major problem in their area .
“It doesn’t matter where you live, if some one person or family move in beside you and they happen to cause upset and mayhem it will deeply affect your life and the lives of your loved ones.”
The DUP man conceded: “There is no doubt that some people who cause these problems have issues and problems themselves and they have to live somewhere. They may have mental health problems. They may have addictions. They may have had a rough deal in life. These vulnerable people need all the support and help they can get.”
However, he says that many excuses for anti-social behaviour are simply unacceptable.
“There comes a time, when even the most serious of personal issues cannot be used as an excuse for anti social behaviour. Whether it be drunken behaviour, noise pollution at all hours, fighting in the streets, damaging people’s property, drug dealing, bullying, aggression towards neighbour , intimidation, letting children run wild, starting fires, urinating on the streets, littering and fly tipping, untidy households and property, not cleaning up dog fouling - the list goes on and on. Such behaviour is . simply is not acceptable.”
Mr. Frew said many victims of such criminal behaviour feel that statutory agencies have left them to deal with this alone.
“They are handed log sheets to keep diary dates of when issues arise or when something happens. They are advised to contact the police who may or may not take an age to get there. They basically have to endure weeks, months or, even, in some cases years of this behaviour before something happens
“Then, after all that,the court system slaps the culprits around the wrist and the agencies refuse to evict!”
The DUP assemblyman urged all relevant agencies need act more quickly and decisively to help the innocents.
He called for a ‘more agile’ approach and urged them to look after the needs and rights of the community or the pensioner who is terrified in their own home, the young father trying to raise his family right but who is at his wits end with the drugs in the area.
“The very people who are living life responsibly need to see support coming in their direction.
“Agencies are losing this battle,” argued Mr. Frew. “It’s now time that they turned this societal problem around for the sake of our communities. If it requires legislative change I will look towards the Ministers responsible and lobby them to make the law fit for purpose”