Wednesday 23 October 2019

Police attempting arrest set upon by mob during night of unrest in Belfast

Police attacked in north and west Belfast

Police attempting arrest set upon by mob during night of unrest in Belfast Police (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Police attempting arrest set upon by mob during night of unrest in Belfast Police (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Jonathan Bell

Police were set upon by a large crowd during a riot in Belfast as they attempted to arrest a teenager.

One officer was injured receiving cuts and bruising to his face.

Saturday night was marred with violence in different parts of both the north and west of the city.

Trouble broke out in the Stewartstown Road area of west Belfast around 10.20pm.

Earlier around 70 youths were drinking and playing music in the wooded area in the Dairy Farm before community representatives tried to move them on.

They then started to throw pieces of masonry at nearby houses and as police attended the disturbance in two land Rovers, a crowd of youths surrounded one of the vehicles and attacked it.

Damage was caused to a second Land Rover which had its wing mirrors pulled off. Bottles and bricks from a nearby building site were then also thrown at them.

The crowd then set fire to nearby traffic lights before police were able to restore order.

A short time later, in the Laurelbank area, a 17-year-old male was arrested on suspicion of a number of offences including riotous behaviour, attempted criminal damage and assaulting police.

As officers attempted to make the arrest, they were attacked by a large crowd which attempted to free the youth resulting in one officer being injured.

Sinn Fein councillor Stephen Magennis branded the behaviour a disgrace saying young children and others well into their teens were involved.

"This has been going on nightly since St Patrick's day and needs brought under control," he said.

"And with Easter coming we will need to put a focus on this area and the Woodside forest."

Meanwhile, in north Belfast police were again attacked in the New Lodge area as they dealt with a disturbance. Around 20 to 30 youths had gathered in the Duncairn Parade area while a male was attacked by a gang of three men.

Later bins were set on fire in the Victoria Parade area, when police went to investigate one of their cars was damaged, although no officers were injured.

Inspector Keith Hutchinson added: “I would like to say to local people in the area that we take all instances of anti-social or nuisance behaviour very seriously as we understand the impact these issues can have on communities.

“While young people have every right to enjoy each other’s company, I would just like to remind them that what might initially seem like fooling about can sometimes get out of hand and end up in a criminal record which can affect travel, education and employment opportunities in the future. It is really important that young people understand this.

“I would also ask parents and guardians to make sure they know where their young people are, what they are doing, 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.

“We will continue to monitor reports of anti-social behaviour and respond appropriately.

“If anyone in the area is concerned about any sort of criminal activity, please contact police at the earliest opportunity in a bid to help prevent and detect crime. Anyone with any information or with general concerns regarding anti-social behaviour should contact police on 101.”

A teenager is currently in police custody, helping with enquiries.

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