Monday, July 20, 2009

Operation Snapper

As Chairman of North Down District Policing Partnership I have voiced my support for a PSNI initiative to help deal with the issue of underage drinking and its impact on anti social behaviour.

Operation Snapper, as it is known, is Police lead and is designed to stop underage drinking and help reduce associated anti social behaviour. It stands for Support No Alcohol in Public Places through Partnership, Enforcement and Regulation. The enforcement campaign will run in the Bangor and Holywood area over the Summer to tackle underage drinking in public areas.

Throughout the year, North Down DPP holds a number of meetings in public and meets with numerous community groups to establish their views on crime and policing. We use this information to agree policing priorities and monitor local police performance to ensure the delivery of a policing service, which meets community needs.

One concern that is regularly raised is that of underage drinking. In the last North Down DPP survey, 51% of local people raised the issue of underage drinking as an issue in North Down. The Northern Ireland average was 49%. Similarly anti social behaviour is raised at nearly every meeting in public and consultation event. We have also found that reports of underage drinking and anti social behaviour tend to increase during the good weather, which we all want to enjoy. The DPP regularly met with groups of young people and are aware that not all young people are the same but this is an issue that we need to work together on; and especially in relation to the impact that this has on the residents of the Borough.

Government have recently published an Action Plan designed to prevent, reduce and address young people’s drinking. It is an issue which we all have a part to play in tackling – whether that be through policing, through education , or through promoting greater social responsibility.

The DPP is fully supportive of this initiative and calls on local people to support the police.

District Policing Partnership highlights Violence in the Home

In my role of Chair of the District Policing Partnership, at our recent meeting, one of the speakers I welcomed was from the North Down and Ards Women's Aid.

This is a topic which I feel is not discussed or highlighted as it should be, I get the feeling that people are not comfortable with the subject. I would hope that I can help in some small way bring this to the attention of as many people as possible and seek help from those who can give some positive help.

The figures are astounding, domestic violence affects one in four women and one in six men across Northern Ireland in their lifetime. At present the PSNI responds to a domestic incident every 22 minutes across the Province.
In North Down, there were 862 reported incidents in 2007/8 and 709 in 2008/9. Remember these are reported incidents there are many more not reported.
There are three times as many domestic violence related crimes as drug offences and the same statistics were similar compared to car thefts.
This is a very serious problem within our community, domestic violence has no respect for socio economic groups, age or gender.
Behind these figures are incidents of real tragedy, homes broken up, women left to cope with children, with little or no money to manage. Domestic violence is a crime, and the PSNI along with organisations such as Women's Aid are a god send for many. However, this is not an issue to be politely discussed at a meeting and then forgotten about. I have written to Minister McGimpsey to seek assurance that domestic violence is given true recognition on just what this crime does within a family and how best suffering, physical, financial, and mental can be addressed - with urgency.

Pensioners living in cold and damp homes

Pensioners living in bungalows in the Bloomfield estate in Bangor are being forced to live in Housing Executive homes which are no more than a disgrace.
I was approached by the Community Association to write to Minister Ritchie to highlight yet again the plight of the pensioners. There is a real need for urgency to make these home habitable - winter is not far away and the residents fear that they face living in cold and damp homes for another year.
I have written to the Minister making it very clear that the living conditions are unacceptable and funding must be found.
I have given my assurance that I will help the residents in their fight for an acceptable standard of living. In this day and age, for our pensioners, is that so very much to ask for?

Granny of the Year

Once again I was approached to organise a celebration event in the Town Hall. This was for Mrs Nora Teer who won the Granny of the year Competition run in aid of the Special Olympics Ireland. Despite some tough competition Nora's fun loving personality shone through and in the final held in Belfast Nora entertained the audience and judges alike to take the title.
Nora and her family raised £230 in aid of the Special Olympics County Down as part of the charity's Changing Lives 2009 campaign.
It is my pleasure to be a friend of Nora, her husband and family and to arrange tea with the Mayor, Alderman Leslie Cree which was for Nora a very happy event.
Nora's title Granny of the Year was well deserved.

Celebrating 10th Anniversary of SADI

I was pleased to arrange with the Mayor Alderman Leslie Cree a reception in the Craig room, the Town Hall to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the organisation - SADI.
Support Awareness Drugs Initiative was formed during my year as Mayor and I was delighted to be invited to one of their first fund raising events. This was a coffee morning in the home of Agnes Smylie who formed the group in memory of her son John who died from a drugs overdose.
During the 10 years SADI has provided a valuable role in helping those with drug related problems. But, I am sad to say that Agnes died some years ago. However, her memory lives on and she was fondly remembered during the reception held in the Town Hall where many of her friends and colleagues were present.