Children from the age of 10 are said to be involved in antisocial activity in the Ballyoran area, which is making the lives of residents a misery.
The latest incident was on Tuesday night when youths climbed onto roofs of business and homes, including pensioners’ bungalows, causing damage which included a broken TV aerial.
The bus shelter was also wrecked the night before.
The trouble has been ongoing since the summer, with disturbances at Halloween likened to the old days of the Drumcree parading dispute.
Last weekend, stones were thrown at a house, leaving a woman and her two daughters terrified, and on another occasion, a business had its windows broken.
One concerned resident said the situation could not continue and called for an urgent, community-led initiative involving all the statutory agencies.
She said, “This has been going on for months. Last night was a perfect example, but it can happen at any time.
“The youngsters are openly taking drugs and drinking in broad daylight.”
The majority of the trouble is centred around the ‘red brick’ houses, where the back alleyways allow a quick getaway. The houses are close to the primary school and shops.
Said the resident, “There are a lot of elderly people living in the area and it’s terrifying for them.
“People are living in fear - they are turning the lights off in their houses at night, and are scared to look out of their windows in case they are targeted.
“The police do come up but they can’t be here all the time. What are the parents doing? What are the politicians doing? The people here are crying out for help.”
Councillor Robert Smith, a member of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP), said a meeting involving statutory agencies has been called for next week.
He said, “This has been going on for quite a while and it is getting out of hand. The PCSP is going to pull together organisations such as the police and Housing Executive to see if we can solve this.
“It is going to take a co-ordinated effort from everyone. There are pensioners’ houses there and the people are frightened.
“Parents have to know what their children are doing, It could end in tragedy, with some kid found overdosed.”
Eamon McNeill, an independent member of the PCSP and SDLP representative in the area, said he had held meetings with the PSNI regarding the antisocial behaviour.
“I was with police at an incident recently, when bricks were thrown, and the police cars were called away to deal with another incident,” he said.
“Police can’t be there all the time - they haven’t got the manpower - although there has been a number of successful drug hauls.”
Mr McNeill said the PCSP had introduced a scheme for young people in the area to take them off the streets but that the situation obviously needed to be looked at seriously, in a meeting involving community reps on the ground.
SDLP councillor Declan McAlinden said he had been contacted by residents disgusted at the damage to the bus shelter and the ongoing issues. He added, “Those involved are causing havoc to local residents, many of whom are elderly. Many are afraid at night and are terrified to leave their homes.
“These youths are under the influence of drink and probably illegal substances and the police need to take stronger action against all involved. This has to happen with the support of the community who need to report and give names to the PSNI to stop this scourge on their community.”
Inspector Leslie Badger said, “I am aware of the impact that anti-social behaviour has on the community in the Ballyoran area and we are working tirelessly to tackle the problem. We take a very pro-active approach working in collaboration with our partner agencies such as local councils and local community groups to tackle this issue in a co-ordinated way.
“Police will exploit all opportunities to address these problems. However, to do this effectively we require the help and support of everyone in the community.”
He added, “I would like to remind parents that they need to be aware of where their children and young people are, what they’re getting up to and to talk to them about the danger of getting caught up in the moment and the possible outcomes they could face if they are found committing any offences.
“I would also ask if anyone in the area is concerned about antisocial behaviour or any sort of criminal activity, please contact us on the non-emergency number 101 and let us know so that we can respond appropriately. Alternatively information can be provided anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”