Galliagh trouble: Londonderry community leaders meet

Leafair Gardens
Image caption Residents said children as young as thirteen were trying to set each other alight using petrol

Community leaders and police have met in Galliagh in Derry to tackle anti-social behaviour following trouble in the area over the weekend.

Proposals include an expansion of the council run community warden scheme and an awareness programme in schools.

Up to 40 youths poured petrol on the street and set it on fire to create a barricade in Leafair Gardens and Glencaw Park on Friday night.

When police arrived they were attacked by youths throwing bricks and bottles.

Two teenage boys, aged 14 and 16, were arrested during the trouble. They have since been released on police bail.

'Out of control'

Stephen Deery, a resident of the Leafair estate, told BBC Radio Foyle that the area is being bombarded by drunken youths causing trouble.

"They must have had petrol in bottles that they were spraying around each other and setting each other alight - so they were jumping around then with their legs and arms on fire.

"It would then turn into stone throwing at each other and fighting which moved the whole way through the estate."

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Media captionPSNI Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan says young people are engaging in highly dangerous activity

Mr Deery also said youths had set fire to his side of a neighbour's house.

"We've tried to go out ourselves and move them on but they don't pay no heed. The police have been down, they don't pay no heed. Councillors have been down but nothing seems to work.

"There's some people on the street who are just too scared to come out at night. I've already heard some people talk about leaving the area. It's crazy, it's out of control."

PSNI Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan said he was encouraged by the meeting on Monday afternoon which he said was about "collaborative decision making".

"We within the PSNI don't have all the answers and we need the other agencies to help us come to both immediate and long-term solutions to this," he added.

"A really thorny issue of young people behaving badly. Anti-social behaviour isn't an issue just in Galliagh, it isn't an issue just for Derry alone, it is throughout Northern Ireland, the island of Ireland and throughout the UK more widely."

He said for this week and next weekend there would be an early deployment of officers to give residents reassurance.

"I am hopeful that we get ahead of this, we do preventive work and we don't have the same issues arising this weekend, but I'm putting resources to this and I want to reassure people that we take the issues very seriously," he said.

In a statement Derry City and Strabane District Council said: "We will continue to work with the PSNI and local representatives to find a lasting resolution to the issue in Leafair and are currently considering a number of proposed approaches to the problem, including increasing the capacity of our CSW scheme."

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