Councillor demands police action in wake of attack on 94-year-old's home

A Ballymena Councillor has called on the PSNI to 'up their game' in relation to ongoing anti-social behaviour in the Harryville area of Ballymena after a 94-year-old woman's home was targetted by a group of youths on Sunday.

UKIP Councillor Donna Anderson, who lives in the area, said she called with the elderly woman on Sunday evening after being alerted by a neighbour about the incident during which, she said, a number of youths had “thumped” on the door and windows of the pensioner’s property.

“For a lady at that age to live her latter years in fear is totally unacceptable; her family are understandably outraged,” Cllr Anderson told The Ballymena Times.

“Are the group of youths who thumped on the windows and door of this elderly woman in Harryville proud of themselves?

“The lady thought the windows were going to break as the hits were so vicious. Shame on those who have thought themselves ‘big men’ to torment a 94-year-old woman in her own home.

“I am appalled at this sort of continual anti-social behaviour. It must stop as a matter of urgency,” said Cllr. Anderson who claimed groups of youths were also targetting shop owners in Harryville by “going in and hassling staff” and that the young people involved were not all from the local area.

She added: “The PSNI were supposed to arrange a public meeting going back at least a fortnight. To this point, we have heard nothing.

“I call upon the PSNI to up their game to bring those responsible for this attack to justice. More widely, I call upon the police to make a more concerted effort to be more visible. I want them to increase their efforts to help my community. This community and others like it in North Antrim are crying out for help right now.

“This sadly was not an isolated incident. If the lack of a visible police presence is directly down to local area budget cuts, we need to know the extent of these cuts.

“Local people want answers and they want action,” Cllr Anderson said.

Responding, Neighbourhood Inspector Heather Scott said: “Police are fully aware of the recent issues around antisocial activity in the Harryville and Smithfield areas and have taken a number of steps already to address this including increased patrolling.

“We have also met with our partner agencies to look at ways we can reduce crime and antisocial behaviour involving young people by adopting an early intervention approach which is also aimed at working with and assisting the families of those young people involved. These meetings will be held on a monthly basis giving everyone the opportunity to share information and plan approaches to assist the young person in ending their involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour which has such a huge impact on the community.

“However, it is also the responsibility of parents and guardians to make sure their children are not mixed up in this behaviour. Knocking on doors and windows can seem fairly innocuous to a younger person however the reality is it can be a horrible and unsettling experience, particularly for older people.

“The incident on Sunday night at the home of an older lady has been very upsetting for both her and her son and the local Neighbourhood team are offering what support they can. We will keep our increased patrols under review and we are reaching out to community workers as well. Once again, if you are a parent of a child who would hang out in the Harryville and Smithfield areas then please take a more intrusive look at what your son or daughter is doing and who they are hanging out with. A criminal conviction at this stage would be detrimental to their future careers and travel plans,” Inspector Scott added.