Police defend record on interface hate crime

Fountain interface

The police have said every effort is being made to tackle sectarian hate crime at the Fountain/Bishop Street interface in Londonderry.

Residents there have criticised police over their response to attacks and violent exchanges in the area.

One resident said vigilantes in the area were keeping "houses safe" and they were "needed because police aren't doing their job".

Inspector Jon Burrows said 120 arrests have been made in the past year.

"The majority of that relates to interface violence at the Fountain," he added.

A youth worker from the Fountain said nightly attacks on the estate were being orchestrated to drive Protestants from the area.

"This year alone we've had the youth club petrol bombed and houses are being battered nightly," said Graham Warke.

Parental responsibility

Local resident William Jackson said the security measures in the area were not deterring people from throwing stones and petrol bombs.

"The CCTV cameras are just a waste of time. They must be dummies because they've never caught anyone," he said.

"If parents were to take more control, the majority of this would stop.

"There has been three generations of Jacksons living in the Fountain and we're not about to get up because boys are throwing stones at us."

Inspector Burrows said he was disappointed at apparent community support for vigilantism

"We need local people to work with police," he continued.

"I agree with Mr Jackson on the parental responsibility issue and I say to any parents: 'Do not let your kids get involved in this. Know where they are tonight. Don't take their word for it, go out and find out. because if they are at that interface they might get injured or arrested'."

Inspector Burrows also said a large amount of resources were being used to deal with sectarian hate crime.

"A dedicated team has been set up to investigate the ongoing violence at the Fountain interface," he said.

"I've arranged extra patrols for the entire weekend. There will be arrests and prosecutions because I have first class CCTV evidence."