RESOURCES: Proven solutions to anti-social behaviour
Duhallow’s Response to Anti-Social Behaviour
CAPTION: Hard at It … Amy Cotter from the Duhallow Boxing Club
practises her moves.
Photo by Patrick Casey.
BY LOUISE BOURKE
In 2011, IRD Duhallow recognised that there was a need to tackle a rising
problem of anti-social behaviour among young people in Duhallow.
So the community organisation got into boxing and the town of Kanturk
has grown quieter at night.
After a recruitment drive by IRD Duhallow, a voluntary committee was formed
and with the help of LCDP funding for equipment, the club opened its doors
September last year, just in time for the start of the boxing season.
The club operates out of a former garage (O’Callaghan’s) on
Earl Street, Kanturk, and in the space of a mere 15 months, over
140 young people have registered.
It’s open to both boys and girls and new teenagers are constantly
This is remarkable when you consider that registration involves: getting
a medical check-up, filling out two forms, providing two signed passport
photos, getting €25 from your guardians and digging out your original
Three nights a week, volunteers and trainers give their time voluntarily
to supervise and train boxers aged 8 years and upwards.
Many of the older youths also volunteer to help train the young children.
We are seeing leadership skills coming to the fore among young people
who would otherwise have never been actively involved in community life.
The weekly fee is set at €6 and this covers the three nights of training.
“We keep it deliberately low to ensure that everyone can take part
in boxing,” says Duhallow Club chairperson Peader
Aspel. “It’s a place where every child is included and we
aim to create a safe space for children in a welcoming environment.”
When you come through the doors of the boxing club you leave your family
life and troubles outside the door and get down to the business of boxing.
The club has just run its first in-house tournament, where every child
who took part got a medal to build and develop their self-esteem. The
club is now hoping to start sending members to compete against other clubs.
Watch out Katie Taylor!
• Louise Bourke is a development officer with IRD Duhallow
- Issue 41, Winter 2012/'13.
“In rural areas, it’s difficult to engage young male teenagers
and to channel
their energies in a positive manner,” explained Maura Walsh, CEO
of IRD Duhallow.
“We needed something which was going to involve them in a worthwhile
activity and promote the spirit of volunteerism as well as healthy exercise.
With the dedication and diligence required for boxing it seemed like the
perfect platform to promote active citizenship amongst young males.”
Community Garda John Fuller says there has already been a marked improvement
in the behaviour of young males.
“There are less youngsters hanging around on weeknights and overall
the boxing club has had an extremely positive impact on the town and the
young people of Kanturk.”
- Issue 41, Winter 2012/'13.
Ways to stop Anti-Social Behaviour - the situation
Action that can be taken over anti-social behaviour includes the
following, REPORTS ALLEN MEAGHER:
1) In 2012, every county and city in the Republic of Ireland had a Joint
Policing Forum. Make your concerns known to them. At least, talk to a
local community Garda.
2) Public housing estates often have estate management workers employed
to work with residents. ‘Changing Ireland’, Issue 17 (pages
8-9) reported on how a model estate management group operates, taking
Tralee as an example.
3) There may be a residents’ group in your area.
4) Throughout urban Ireland, Neighbourhood Watch schemes are coming back
into vogue. If your area does not have one, consider starting one up.
Contact your local garda station for advice or check out the relevant
page on: www.gardai.ie.
5) In rural areas, Community Alert Schemes are becoming stronger. Contact
your local garda station or call Muintir na Tíre’s Community
Alert Development Officer (T: 062-51163). You can download a ‘Community
Alert Handbook’ from: www.garda.ie
6) Start up a local community safety forum – a group in West Clondalkin
produced a guidebook in 2006 on how to do just that (See Issue 17, page
7) If the anti-social behaviour is confined to youths, your Local Development
Company may be able to help you arrange worthwhile activities for young
people locally. This often helps alleviate anti-social behaviour. See
page 8 of this edition and our two-page feature in ‘Changing Ireland’
Issue 36 to learn how Nascadh CDP turned around a situation where there
was frequent anti-social behaviour and tension between the generations
in East Wall, Dublin.
8) Unfortunately, a scheme that provided personal alarms to older people
has suffered from cutbacks. If you can, install an alarm yourself.
9) If you live in private or rented accommodation, read Ms A’s story
for advice on how she and her neighbours faced up to a situation involving
drug-dealing, horse-riding in the carpark, damage to cars, assaults and
10) Nobody has all the solutions, but check out our 8-page report about
communities that came up with ideas to tackle anti-social behaviour in
the Spring 2006 edition of ‘Changing Ireland’ (Issue 17, pages
11-18). All our back-issues are available on: http://issuu.com/changingireland/
11) Contact people in your local community centre, or Local Development
Company, for more advice and direction.
12) Finally, the term Anti-Social Behaviour doesn’t always do justice
to what you may be experiencing. If it’s criminal behaviour, report
it to the Gardai. Use their confidential line if need be. T: 1800-666111.
- Issue 41, Winter 2012/'13.
Fun flows for teenage revellers
- Educating students on the effects of drink shows real results
By Robert McNamara
Thanks to an LCDP-led project, youngsters in Monaghan have learned to
party without drinking.
Gardai in Monaghan had a very quiet night this year as teenagers celebrated
their Junior Cert results.
Public order incidents on the night fell by 85 percent – down from
14 in 2011 to two.
The third annual ‘Safe Socialising’ campaign successfully
addressed underage drinking among students as they traditionally party
after the results come out.
It was a collaborative effort between Monaghan Integrated Development,
Youth Work Ireland Monaghan, Gardai, Monaghan Joint Policing Committee,
Monaghan County Council and Comhairle Na nOg.
In 2009 the amount of incidents peaked at 40. After the launch of the
first campaign in 2010 this fell by 90% to four. The numbers went up slightly
in 2011 but 2012 has been another successful year.
The campaign entitled ‘Don’t Pour Your Dreams Away’
featured workshops and presentations on the effects and consequences of
consuming alcohol. These were delivered in 11 secondary schools in the
Garda Margaret Oliphant, who along with her colleague Garda Frances Merrick
delivered the presentations on behalf of An Garda Siochanna, said: “The
workshops were well planned and the students were receptive. From a professional
point of view, the programme is very worthwhile. On Junior Cert night,
in Monaghan Town, Gardai had to deal with two incidents, one of which
resulted in a public order arrest.”
Garda Frances Merrick said the workshops might help children think twice
abut their alcohol consumption into college and beyond.
Gerard Callan, education co-ordinator with Monaghan Integrated Development
highlighted the inter-agency approach, “The success centred on our
ability to bring together agencies in County Monaghan each of whom brought
their own expertise to the table for the good of the students in the county.”
Carol Lambe, Monaghan County Council said the programme gave young people
a “360 degree view of the issue, including repercussions for future
health and the legal implications for those who may wish to emigrate (to
For more info, contact Gerard Callan. E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 042-974-9500.
MONAGHAN - PROJECT SNAPSHOT:
• It is hoped to continue this as an annual event due to the success
in combating risk-taking among young people and anti-social behavior.
• One of the observations made by organisers is that most young
people have experimented with alcohol by Junior Cert age which means the
interventions must be at an earlier age.
• The Programme was offered to all secondary schools in the County
with 11 of the 12 schools participating.
• Feedback was extremely positive from the young people.
• The LCDP provided €1000 towards the initiative. Monaghan
Joint Policing Committee also funded 2GB memory sticks bearing the slogan
‘Don’t Pour Your Dreams Away’.
• The organisers are unaware of any similar projects running elsewhere
in the country.
- Issue 41, Winter 2012/'13.
Community development has proven solutions for anti-social behaviour
As featured on Spring '06 front cover, the media and politicians moan
about it… Des Bishop jokes about it… But Community Development Projects
are doing something about it… 'it' being anti-social behaviour.
There are proven approaches that can and do work. Here we have a special
focus (most articles drawn from Issue 17 of 'Changing Ireland')
on practical examples of work done by CDPs and other community groups
to deal with anti-social behaviour, in Dublin, Cork and around the country
Set up a Community Safety Forum - Dolcain CDP produce guidebook to show how.
It could become a best-seller in the community sector! A CDP in the
capital has produced a guide-booklet for people thinking of setting
up a community safety forum and wondering how to go about it.
The booklet is based on the experiences of Dolcain CDP in setting up
a forum in South Clondalkin and it details the process involved from
start to finish.
The idea of a forum to combat anti-social behaviour in the area was
first mooted in 1997 and took seven years to get up and running. The experience
is described in 36 well-structured and easily understood pages.
While South Clondalkin is not the first to set up a community safety forum
in Dublin - there are already fora operating in North Clondalkin and in
Ballymun for instance - the guide booklet is a first. "It is hoped that
it will act as a guide for projects or individuals interested in mobilising
communities to formulate a collective response to the issue of community
safety," says Bernadette Farrell, Forum Development Worker, in the foreward.
It had become clear, she said, "that anti-social behaviour in many forms
had put public safety in jeopardy and the lack of necessary facilities
and amenities compounded the problem." Providing a model of good practice,
the booklet shows how important it is for all stakeholders in the community
- local, voluntary, agency and statutory - to have an input into the community's
response to safety issues. "Before, I felt we were isolated and neglected.
It has been an eye-opener to see what can be achieved by working together,"
said one local resident.
The Forum has been meeting for a year-and-a-half now and had developed
slowly, though nonetheless substantially. The Safety Forum's success
can be seen in the "positive effect in terms of community activism in
the area," said one Forum member. "Individuals now have a greater sense
of awareness, empowerment and optimism and are more likely to become
involved in community initiatives," said a member of Cairdeas, a community-based
service for drug-users. An example the person gave of this was when
local youths came forward to work with the forum and to see how they
could contribute to addressing the issues in their area. According to
a resident's representative, the main achievements to date have been:
- Improving communication between residents and service providers. Myths
and false assumptions that groups had about each other have been put
to rest (eg residents and police).
Information has been provided and awareness increased within the community around how to access services
and the procedures to follow with service-providers.
- Another Forum member
pointed out that now the Gardaí have gained a deeper understanding
of the types of problems effecting local residents. "The Forum (allows)
all South West Clondalkin residents, in private, local authority and
housing association areas, to get together and unite in addressing anti-social
behaviour and related issues," said an environmental group member interviewed
by the CDP.
- Another benefit is that residents committees have been set
up newly or re-established where they had fallen by the wayside. Where,
in the past, people in South Clondalkin often felt too intimidated to
challenge those involved in anti-social behaviour, the Forum-approach
has made it possible for local people to finally have a say in what
happens. However, it is being increasingly recognised by residents,
Gardaí, council officials, health executive officials and community
workers that it takes time to change policies, to lobby, to solve problems.
For more information or for a copy of the booklet, contact Bernadette
Farrell, South West Clondalkin Community Safety Forum, Bawnogue Enterprise
and Community Centre, Bawnogue Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22. Tel. 01-457-6053
or 457-6055. Fax. 01-457-6293. E-mail: email@example.com - Issue 17, Spring
Community development approach
Naturally, Dolcain CDP adopted a community development approach, which
in practice means the forum work can be done through "social analysis,
education, collective action, and self-advocacy in dealing with agencies
and other barriers." "This type of community development suggests that
rather than the goal being focused on material products, the process
of community development is in fact a goal in its own right," states
the CDP. - Issue 17, Spring '06
Impact for Dolcain project
The Community Safety Forum constitutes an integral part of the Dolcain
project's work. Its role in the Forum has brought added value in terms
of its other functions, and for example, Dolcain has been able to organise
successful community activities as a direct result of the project worker's
role in developing residents groups. The Forum can also strengthen Dolcain's
lobbying position, for example on the issue of the non-designation of
the area as part of the RAPID Programme. Since the introduction of this
programme, the focus of many inter-agency structures is overly centred
on RAPID areas. Likewise, the ongoing developmental and networking role
of the forum project worker, while promoting the forum, also serves
to compliment and connect with the community development work of Dolcain.
- Issue 17, Spring '06
Forum's first concerns
At the very first meeting of South Clondalkin Community Safety Forum
- a planning meeting - the following were issues raised by community
- Under-reporting of incidents;
feeling of a lack of resources;
- Call-out times/lack of response;
Implementation of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.
17, Spring '06
Funding the Forum
The initiative is funded by the Department of Environment, through
South Dublin County Council, on the recommendation of the Clondalking
Drug Task Force. The funding is allocated through the Dolcain CDP, which
is responsible for employing the project worker and covers costs relating
to the Forum. The notion that funding, especially for the forum worker,
could one day be withdrawn is seen as a potential threat to the forum's
- Issue 17, Spring '06
€500 was enough to start a youth club in
Sheila Cantwell, Manager of Loughboy
Area Resource Centre (LARC) in Kilkenny feels the project's youth-focused
programmes make a positive impact on the level of anti-social behaviour
in the city: "On the preventative side we have an After Schools Programme
and Anger Management course. We also recently started up a Youth Group
on Monday evenings that Annette Chappell looks after.Though that's the
only project for youths aged 15-plus in the whole of Loughboy - the
largest housing estate in Kilkenny City.
We currently have 9 members and our current budget is €500, which
we got from the VEC." "There's been €1.4 million invested in childcare
facilities here, but little or nothing for kids after they pass 13 years.
I've seen two generations of kids grow up with no facilities. There's
a chess-club and a swimming pool. That's it. There's no amenities here.
And this is a RAPID area. Apart from a one-month summer camp in July,
very little happens."
Sheila said a local community counselling service
worked well, except that it caters for the 18-25 age group. "That addresses
the problems, not the causes," she commented. Annette Chappell is the
After Schools leader and unofficial 'youth worker' with LARC. There are
about 27 kids registered with the After Schools Club. This runs from 2-6pm
and involves everything from a homework club to personal development and
there is also a social element. Annette tries to ensure that the kids
have a sense of ownership of the club, and encourages them to suggest
"We're really at a loss on where to get money for youth projects.
The kids would like to go on a trip together to Wales, but €500 (the
club's only funding for the year) won't get you far! They're already planning
on fundraising to raise the money. The kids are really enthusiastic about
the club. What they really want is a space to call their own. They're
already dreaming of decorating the place. You could implement a whole
youth programme around a space like that…"
"The kids come here on Monday
Nights and the top three reasons they say they come are for: 'fun', 'something
to do' and 'it's somewhere to go where we won't be seen as being trouble.'
They would love to have their youth club run a few nights per week."
Annette runs the club on a semi-voluntary basis, helped by another LARC management
committee volunteer. She says the youth club is caught for space as well
"In the LARC building, once we pull the pool table out there's
not much room for anything else. The local councillors are unwilling to
unlock the necessary green spaces to build proper facilities for the youth.
These same green spaces end up being used by youths for drink and drugs."
- Issue 17, Spring '06
Athy opts for CCTV and Neighbourhood
By Ger Fitzgibbon
Ann Redmond is a development worker with Athy CDP, County Kildare,
and she is also Chairperson of Woodstock Estate Resident's Association.
She said community-based CCTV had been set up in her area, as well as
a Neighbourhood Watch programme. These schemes had been developed in
conjunction with the Community Forum set up by the RAPID co-ordinator.
The Forum is also looking at getting a Crime Prevention Officer and
at having a Garda patrol the area on foot. Ann said there are no youth
facilities in the town's housing estates apart from the children's playground,
although the Community Forum has applied for funds from the RAPID Dormant
Accounts to set up a Youth Café. A premises is already available, all
that is needed is the money.
Ann enthused about a Youth Café she saw in Wales. There the youth
ran the space themselves, there was a computer room, a tea room and
a basketball area. She hopes to see such a versatile space developed
in Athy, run by the various youth groups all working together. - Issue
17, Spring '06
CCTV does not always appeal
In Dublin, Fatima residents voted recently not to install a CCTV system
in their new neighbourhood, reports Tim Hourigan. They
hoped that it will not be needed, but they also were not very impressed
with the usefulness of CCTV, complaining that the CCTV system in the
old flats complex was not actively monitored, and was generally only
used by the council and the Gardaí during evictions or raids.
As visitor Paddy Flannery
from Moyross, Limerick, pointed out, an unmonitored system is of little
use in deterring anti-social behaviour. In Moyross, where Paddy is manager
of the Community Enterprise Centre, it is community members, not the
Gardaí or the council who monitor the CCTV, and it is monitored on a
24-hour basis, and the footage has been used in several successful prosecutions.
Both the Fatima and Cranmore groups expressed an interest in visiting
Moyross to see how this system works.
On the subject of viable residents
groups, Tracy McElligott, a development worker with
Moyross Residents' Forum (and a member of the local CDP) outlined
that since there were 1100 houses in the area, it was decided to break
the estate up into 11 more manageable parks. Each park now has a residents
association and each has two delegates who sit on the main Residents
Forum along with representatives from the community centre, local council,
Gardaí, Bus Eireann, and other groups working in the community.
This approach gives residents more involvement in and awareness of issues
such as public lighting, the management of green areas, and protecting
the bus service, claims Tracy.
- Issue 17, Spring '06
Arty approach to working with teenagers
The arts have still a somewhat marginal role in youth and community development
work, writes GER FITZGIBBON. But the attitude that sees
arts and creativity as a fluffy indulgence in the otherwise serious business
of youthwork ignores the benefits of arts. It energises and interests
young people, helps develop their social skills and involve them in activities
with positive social outcomes.
In larger urban areas, youth groups are
beginning to realise the positive potential of community arts, yet most
rural towns and villages suffer from a serious lack of facilities for
young people in the 14-23 age bracket. Is it time CDPs began to look at
arty ways of filling this gap?
The Youth Services and Facilities Fund already funds a mass of work
across the country, including, for example in Limerick city.
Damien Landy is a youth worker
with Limerick Youth Services (LYS). One of Damien's
current projects is LYS's innovative 'Massive Music' programme. This
involves staging music workshops and concerts for young musicians and
bands. The concerts are currently held several times per year during
LYS is looking to expand Massive Music to a
full-time drop in place with rehearsal and performance spaces in conjunction
with a health café. This is in recognition of the wider social benefits
that come from providing young people with a supervised space in which
A similar type space already up and running
is 'Elmo's Attic' provided by Clare Youth Services in Ennis. This space
is run by young people and local bands have a space to perform every
Q: What's the use of arts and music
in youth/community development?
Replied Damien: "The art or music is often
incidental. It's a means for youth workers to pursue skills central
to values of youth work. Creative activities give you something positive
to channel your energies into. Arts can offer informal education and
a sense of community develops when young people are working creatively
together. It's healthy in a whole number of ways"
Q: What's the advantage of the creative
approach to youth development work?
Damien: "This approach sees youth as having
a lot to offer. Art-work is a positive way of engaging with young people,
and for them to engage with each other. In traditional youth work, sports
tends to dominate, but - with arts and music - there can be more variety.
And you can reach more people from more diverse backgrounds. For example the music community we deal with is spread
out right across the city and county. From these contacts you can often
bring them into drugs and alcohol awareness or other programmes. Arts
is more developmental. For example we're recently done some photography
and film projects where we got young people to reflect on their communities."
Q: Do you feel public policy should
be more favourable to community arts projects?
Damien: "Creative forms of youth work are always more interesting…and they will happen on ground anyway, whether policy
is that way inclined or not, because that is where many youth workers'
interest tends to lie and because they are very effective forms of intervention."
Q: How can we deal with the lack of
non-sporting activities in rural areas? Should the CDPs address this
or leave it to the likes of LYS?
Damien: "We would see it as more of a partnership-type
approach. In Limerick we work hand in hand with the Partnership and
LEADER groups. The new Youth Act proposes that youth organisations be
the service providers but allows much scope for local initiative on
the ground. The nature of youth work is also changing, the old style
youth club is not the answer to everything. There's also a change in
the nature of volunteerism. People who come forward now often offer
specific skills or expertise, for a specific project. Youth work also
occurs in the context of wider social problems they can't themselves
address. ASBOs are not the answer." - Issue 17, Spring '06
Sirens blaring now
a rarity in Fatima- thanks to local policing forum
Anti-social behaviour is less of a problem than before in Fatima Mansions
and local CDP, Fatima Groups United (FGU), claim their success comes
from working together with residents, the Gardaí and the council
through the Rialto policing forum.
The issue was discussed recently when community representatives from
Limerick and Sligo visited Fatima.
According to FGU team leader Joe Donohue, residents groups try to familiarise
the locally-stationed and community Gardaí with the situation
in the estate. The aim is that rather than coming in with sirens blaring
- which causes crowds of excited children to gather - the Gardaí
and community will develop a smarter approach to dealing with anti-social
problems. A Garda superintendent has been invited to take a seat on
the regeneration board.
Joe explained that recent changes in the law had made it easier to evict
people for such things as drug dealing. With residents who develop a
history of anti-social behaviour, FGU speak to the resident and their
neighbours to remind everyone that anti-social behaviour will not be
tolerated in the community.
According to Joe, the key is "to be careful, fair but firm with people
and create a very strong sense of ownership of the community, and have
local knowledge and local people involved".
FGU recently organised a tenancy training programme for residents, explaining
the rights and responsibilities of tenants as community members, and
encouraged them to see themselves as owning the community and to take
an active interest in how it fares.
Dorothy Walker, of Fatima Residents Forum said that, after all the hard
work and changes that people had gone through (regarding the public
battle with city council over regeneration) morale was now higher, and
people were more determined not to let things slide back to the way
Over time, through work done by the CDP and by residents associations,
there has been an increase in the levels of confidence and solidarity
among residents, so people feel less intimidated or reluctant to make
complaints to the police.
Marie Brennan, resident support worker with the Cranmore group in Sligo
explained that they had found it helpful for written complaints to be
made in the name of residents associations. - Issue 17, Spring '06
deterrent is a techno answer to 'pesky teens'
- And Kerry Partnership youth officer is disgusted
For Sarah O'Brien, youth officer at the Kilorglin office of South Kerry
Development Partnership, the focus on anti-social behaviour is a knee-jerk
reaction often exploited at election time by politicians looking for
easy votes, aware that the people getting the blame cannot vote, reports
She has warned people to watch out for the latest cure-all invention,
the so-called 'Sonic Teenage Deterrent' which is being tested abroad.
"It's an alarm that emits an annoying high frequency noise, only heard
by younger people. It's being fitted in shopping centres in England
to stop young people from congregating," explained Sarah.
The Sonic Teenager Deterrent is being tested by shopkeepers in Staffordshire,
with local police support, in a bid to stop youths gathering outside
shops.The device costs £622 and can supposedly be heard only by 16-22
year olds. The participating shopkeepers can turn the volume up if they
want a crowd gathered outside to disperse.
Already, however, there is resistance. In Wales, the Newport Community
Safety Partnership banned the device in case it infringes on human rights.
Sarah pointed out: "In Britain, there is an emphasis on punishment,
law and order, CCTV, and Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. ASBOs are just
a sticking plaster on a more serious problem. Why not invest in proper
facilities, in new social and civic spaces?"
"There is only one cinema in the whole of South Kerry," she continued.
"Young people need both physical and mental space in which to grow.
Attractive alcohol-free spaces like properly run youth cafés and drop-in
centres would go a long way to addressing youth needs of South Kerry,
and would be a positive way of engaging with them."
"We did have a drop-in centre at a local hall, staffed by CE volunteers.
Unfortunately the hall committee closed it down because a chair was
Sarah felt there was a need for more intergenerational projects: "Many
problems have to do with a lack of understanding between generations.
A lot of the time, anti-social behaviour can simply mean: young people
"One Intergenerational programme we ran was the 'My Community' Photo
Project between the Youth Club and the Active Retirement Group. We put
on an exhibition of photos that both groups took of the locality."
Isolation affects rural youth as well as older people, especially where
there is a lack of proper transport to urban centres. Many rural teenagers
only get to socialise on the school bus, at home, or for 2 or 3 hours
at the youth club, if there is one, she pointed out. - Issue 17,
West multi-pronged approach
West CDP, Dublin 5, some of the anti-social behaviour is inter-generational.
"Local kids are urinating in elderly peoples gardens and in through
their letter boxes," said a local youth worker who preferred not to
be named. The area has problems with joyriding, burglaries and graffiti
and Kilmore West CDP is heavily involved in the following to help combat
Neighbourhood Watch Scheme - the project meets every two months
with Gardaí to discuss anti-social behaviour and to agree on what
can be done;
- After-School Programme for 5-13 years;
- Second-chance education where the courses are free, for example
self-development and computers;
- The CDP also set up a project and employed a worker to help
families that have issues with drugs.
Stephanie Leamy is a student with Limerick Youth Service who
was on work placement with 'Changing Ireland' recently. - Issue
17, Spring '06
Mahon develops Community Policing
Neighbourhood Watch Schemes have largely fallen by the wayside in recent
years, but Community Policing Forums are springing up around the country.
Community Policing Forums are often set up after a community feels under
threat and demands action. For example the inner-city heroin epidemic
in Dublin in the 1980's and early 90's eventually led some communities
to take action and form committees with local Gardaí.
Here we look at the example being shown by people in Mahon, Cork city, who have set
up a community policing forum involving local residents, community groups,
state agencies and community Gardaí.
conventional wisdom says that if an area has an effective forum in operation
then major problems can be avoided or at least prevented when identified
in their infancy.
The Forum, when fully operational will operate on two tiers, as follows.
Residents and representatives from the many streets/estates in Mahon
will come together once monthly/bimonthly.
o Community Gardaí will also attend.
o Problems within the area can be raised.
o Issues directly pertaining to the Gardaí
e.g. public order, criminal damage, public drinking will be addressed,
commitments will be made and a localised policing plan put in place
o Information on issues where Gardaí are not
directly responsible will be fed onto other agencies (eg, the ESB).
Assessment of the problem will occur at the following month's meeting
as regards the effectiveness of solutions previously proposed.
Major problems not resolved by Tier 1 meetings will be raised at larger
meetings, which will take place 3-4 times a year.
They will be attended by the residents from Tier 1 and also representatives
from community associations, existing neighbourhood watch schemes, city
council officials, elected representatives, local reps from state agencies
and the voluntary sector within Mahon.
Again commitments will be made and plans put in place. The benefits
of the Forum when it is running successfully will include: accountability,
improved service, better service/use of resources, and closer links
with the community. - Issue 17, Spring '06
Mahon Gardaí train in youth leadership
Four Gardaí who operate out of Mahon/Blackrock Garda Station
in Cork City recently completed a Youth Leadership Training Programme
along with eleven local adults from the Mahon area.
The purpose of the training was to develop a pool of trained youth leaders
to support a new local 'open to all' youth initiative in Mahon Youth
Centre on Friday nights. Training was delivered by Katrine Holland of
the Foróige-managed Mahon Youth Development Project (MYDP).
Viv Sadd, project co-ordinator of Mahon
CDP, said "This is yet another example in Mahon of Gardaí
and community working together, and it gathered momentum out of a Community
Policing Forum meeting in Mahon."
"The reasoning behind the Friday night 'open to all' club was, firstly,
there are limited activities for young people on weekend nights. Secondly,
while there are extremely important local youth initiatives targeting
young people involved in crime, drugs/alcohol or early school leavers
there are limited youth initiatives which have an 'open to all' approach,"
The Gardaí who attended the training - Ciaran Cleary, Pat Barrett,
Roisín Ní Chathaín and Marie O'Neil - were not
all from the Community Policing Unit.
Jenny Florish, a local adult volunteer who also undertook the youth
leadership training, said: "I was very wary at the start of the training
with the Gardaí involved, but now after the training when I meet
them on the road we chat away like I have known them for years. It is
good for us and it is definitely good for the young people to see Garda
involved in this project."
Katrine remarked, "On the first night of training you sensed the apprehension
from the volunteers, but now that they have developed relationships
they are all working for the benefit of the community". The participants
covered things like child protection, first aid, role of leader, and
communications during their five weeks of training.
The Friday night
club is up and running now.
Mahon CDP, MYDP, Community Garda and the
Yew Tree Project formed the organising committe to make this initiative
For further information, telephone Viv
Sadd, Mahon CDP, on 021-4359070. - Issue 17, Spring
Early results for Mahon Policing Forum
A local green space that was previously a haven for late night anti-social
behaviour was transformed by the City Council into a children's playground
and amenity area. Sounds good so far.
However the anti-social behaviour
that had affected the area prior to the transformation continued once
the park gates were closed each evening.
Local residents directly affected
came together with City Council officials, the Gardaí, representatives
from the youth network and community associations. Mahon
CDP facilitated this process.
There were a number of facets to the
problem that none of the agencies could solve alone, but together they
had a combined effect:
- Fencing and lighting in the park needed to
be improved in order to help prevent access.
- The Gardaí needed
to give the area a higher level of policing in the short term in order
to deter those intent on causing disruption.
- Mahon Youth Development
Project began to interact with teenagers using the park after hours
to provide them with a more positive outlet (through sports and other
The multi-agency approach alleviated the problem to a large
- Issue 17, Spring '06
'Late-night basketball' yields amazing results
Responding to a need to provide some activities for young people on
weekend nights in Mahon, Cork, a number of groups and organisations
examined the 'Midnight basketball' model as a possible option. The concept
hails from the U.S.A. where it has got young people off the street.
In Mahon the decision was made to use a variation of this and offer
'Late-night' basketball for local young people on Saturday nights.
"The results have been amazing," pointed out Declan Cassidy, the Youth Officer
with Mahon Youth Development Project (MYDP). "We were not sure in the
beginning whether this initiative would work out. There is very little
history of basketball in the area to start with. However the enthusiasm
and commitment shown by the young people has been extraordinary and
the whole thing has turned out to be a real success."
A sports co-ordinator and two basketball coaches were contracted to run the weekly sessions.
One of the youth workers from the local committee and the community
garda also join in the sessions. The basketball is held on Saturday
nights in the sports hall of the local boys secondary school in Mahon
- Nagle Community College.
Viv Sadd, Project Co ordinator with Mahon
CDP, said, "This initiative came together relatively quickly and
has been successful because of the willingness of local and outside
groups and agencies to work together collectively."
The organising committee consisted of local groups Mahon CDP, the MYDP, the Yew Tree Project
(from the Local Drugs Task Force), the Community Gardaí. Outside
agencies that are involved include Cork City Council (through its Sports
Officer), City of Cork VEC and RAPID. Funding for the initiative comes
from the latter two mentioned bodies and from the Irish Youth Foundation.
The 'Midnight Basketball' idea has also proven a great success in Mayfield,
Cork. - Issue 17, Spring '06
Community policing now a national priority
- though Dublin loses 23 officers
Community Policing is now one of the main policing priorities in the
Policing Plan of An Garda Síochána for 2006.
Strategic Goal Number 5 of the Policing Plan is "to improve confidence in An Garda Síochána"
through "enhancing our engagement with the community". Community Policing
has long been recognised as one of the most effective ways in which
a police force can develop and foster strong links with the Community
At the core of the concept of Community Policing is the idea
of cultivating links with the various facets of the community in a meaningful
way in order that the Gardaí can respond to the policing requirements
of that community.
In the meantime - surprisingly - Department of Justice
figures released in mid-March, 2006, showed that stations across Dublin
city have 23 fewer community Gardaí than they used to. There
are plans to turn the figures around.
The south inner city (there are
CDPs in Fatima Mansions and in St Michael's Estate in Inchicore) has
lost five of its 27 community officers.
Tallaght (which is home to a
number of CDPs) is down from 24 to 20. Since 2004, Finglas lost one
of its 12 community Gardaí. Blanchardstown has 17, two fewer
than in 2001.
Other reductions since 2004 include: Ronanstown down 16
to 13; Dun Laoghaire down 5 to 4; Dundrum down 6 to 5.
The figures were
extracted from the Department of Justice by Labour TD, Joe Costello,
who commented: "It has been proven that a well-resourced Community Garda
team contributes hugely to reducing crime." - Issue 17, Spring '06
Outspoken CDP worker undeterred by arson attack
-Mahon resident, CDP co-ordinator and city councillor Chris O'Leary
"The term 'anti-social behaviour' is becoming the catch-all for a lot
of what is really criminal behaviour," says Cork's Chris O'Leary, a
resident of Mahon, co-ordinator of Faranree CDP and a Green Party city
He knows only too well. As reported in the Autumn edition
of 'Changing Ireland', the O'Leary family home was attacked by arsonists
and the family had to move out for nine weeks. Chris was convinced the
attack was linked to his outspokenness about anti-social and criminal
behaviour in communities.
Many people are too afraid to speak up, but Chris publicly supports evictions and other measures. When he speaks
out, he says he does so as a resident and local activist, as a councillor
and as a CDP co-ordinator and he condemns anti-social and criminal behaviour
in both Mahon and Faranree.
BOOKLET FOR VICTIMS
Chris is currently putting
together a booklet for victims that shows ways of overcoming victimisation.
"I don't believe in violence or vigilantism," Chris notes. "I am against
ASBOs ('anti-social behaviour orders') too by the way. There are enough
laws in this country, if only they were all used.
Even though he is an elected member of Cork City Council, he is critical of local authorities.
"Local authorities have a lot to take responsibility for. They actually
reward the neighbours from hell by not doing a thing about them. In
one estate I know, the people in 29 out of 32 housing units have put
in for transfers.
"If evictions are needed, they must be followed through on. I have publicly supported evictions in the past. "I work in Faranree
and live in Mahon and the neglect over the years has been very damaging to the communities. If we were really serious about eradicating poverty,
there would be a lot more money put into it. Anti-social and criminal behaviour are symptoms of a wider problem.
"I would be very critical of the Gardaí. They pass the buck. Those who really need their
support say 'Why go to the Gaurds when there is nothing done?'
Chris knows he is not always loved for being so outspoken.
"All too often when you raise an issue of anti-social and criminal behaviour, you get
accused of giving a place a bad name. You are damned either way. A recent
article in 'Changing Ireland' (about Mahon in Cork being given a bad
name) was aimed at me, without mentioning me.
"My outspokenness comes from the fact that people come to me complaining about the anti-social
behaviour in their areas and they are afraid. It's about mobilising
their community to improve their community and get the city council
to improve things for them.
"If people do not speak up, they become victims of their own silence. Then nobody knows about their problems,
no-one can help them, they live in fear and their health deteriorates."
MIXING PARTY POLITICS AND CDP WORK
Chris is one of a half-dozen or more CDP volunteers / staff around the
country who mix party politics with community development work. Asked
are the management members of Faranree also members of the Green Party,
"No, they are not. There is no party politics in the CDP,"
says Chris. "It doesn't matter what party I am in, I am first of all
an activist. We actually allow all the political parties here to use
the CDP premises to hold clinics.
"I represent the area I live in and not the area I work in, though I will be going forward as a Dáil candidate
in the next elections.
"When I speak out, I make the distinction to speak as a councillor," he said, adding that he regularly reminds people
when he is at work with the CDP that he cannot deal with their queries there and then. Faranree CDP have taken a number of initiatives in the
area of anti-social and criminal behaviour - trying to engage with gangs and also supporting residents to speak out.
"We take on people forwarded to us by the probation service to work in the CDP and very few of them go back to re-offend," said Chris.
Recently, the CDP held a photo exhibition
as part of the October 17th UN day marking efforts to eradicate poverty.
The exhibition - featuring vandalised houses in Faranree - linked local
and global poverty.
"Some local councillors who saw it said it was very
negative, but as I said to them, 'How do you dress up poverty to look
o For more information, contact Faranree CDP 98 Knockpogue Ave,
Farranree, Cork. Tel. 021-4211822. Fax: 021-4211823. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Issue 20, Winter '06
Priorswood joyriding report calls for new approach
Gerry McKeever and Allen Meagher report
The success of the Priorswood Joyriding Task Force in north Dublin
in reducing the number of cars reported stolen in the area means there
are practical solutions for other areas experiencing similar problems,
according to a new report: 'The Nature and Impact of Joy-riding in Priorswood
- A Report to the Priorswood Task Force on Joy-riding'
The report, carried
out by Michael Rush, Paula Brudell and Aogán Mulcahy of UCD points to
the success of the Joyriding Task Force and calls for a joint approach
by Dublin City Council, Gardaí and local community groups in
tackling the problem.
It draws on the views and experiences of young
people - including joy-riders and non-joy-riders - in the area, as well
as adult residents.
Priorswood CDP and TravAct CDP are among the local
groups that have been involved in the taskforce that commissioned the
Joyriding is almost uniquely carried out by young males from
working class estates with 'risk' forming a major part of the attraction.
For many it is a reassertion of their identity and status as 'risk takers'.
While the activity is universally seen as anti-social activity in the
estates where the joy-riders live, it is seen by the joy-riders themselves
as asserting their own identity. For the joyrider, there is no prospect
of material gain and the 'payback' is in the form of 'thrill' and local
The report also links habitual alcohol and drug use, depression
and school absenteeism to incidents of joy-riding while it distinguishes
between what it calls 'joy-riding', 'boy-racing' and 'lunatic driving'.
Of the three, only 'lunatic driving' poses a widespread social threat
according to the report.
Among the recommendations - a community policing
forum, similar to the 'Safer Ballymun' initiative and a major overhaul
of roads, pavements and fields in conjunction with discussions with
local youth on the provision of facilities - all practical steps that
can be taken through an inter-agency approach.
Copies of the report
are available from Priorswood CDP. Tel. 01-848-6458. Fax: 01-867-1182.
E-mail: email@example.com - Issue 17, Spring '06
Recommendations of joyriding
The following are some of the key recommendations made in the report
‘The Nature and Impact of Joy-riding in Priorswood –
A Report to the Priorswood Task Force on Joy-riding’. Copies
of the full report are available through Priorswood
• An audit of the broad economic and social costs associated with
joy-riding should be undertaken. This would truly establish the severity
of the problem, and serve as the basis for allocating due resources
A sustained evaluation of the motor project in Priorswood and other
motor projects should be undertaken. Throughout Britain, youngsters
tempted to engage in joy-riding are encouraged to divert their energies
into attending motor-car workshops. However, some residents in Priorswood
say the motor project only serves as a training course for further joy-riding.
• A local forum should be established where all are welcome to
come and discuss issues. It could, for example, provide a space for
young people to air greviances over having their horses impounded. Questions
could be asked as to why some residents are passively supporting joy-riding
by acting as spectators anytime joy-riding takes place.
By raising issues in a sustained way, the discussions could, in turn,
feed into the policy development.
• Research conducted for the report confirmed the key links between
crime and marginalisation. Correspondingly, the report recommends that
youth diversion measures and recreational facilities for young people
must be developed independently of labour market concerns. Furthermore,
the focus of such measures should specifically include younger children
• Given that unemployment rates in Priorswood generally are twice
the national average, the report recommends that job training and job
provision – especially for young men – be given the highest
• Life on large-scale labyrinthine public housing estates often
brings a sense of physical vulnerability and insecurity, say the authors,
"The joy-riding issue (should) be considered within a concerted
approach by local government and local development agencies, and the
RAPID programme, and this (should) be done within a wider context of
developing local anti-poverty and social inclusion measures.
"We further recommend the development of a strong institutional
link between the community policing/safety forum and social inclusion
initiatives and family support initiatives."
Continued support for youth clubs is also a key recommendation.
• The report recommends that the Task Force (who commissioned
the report) should itself be wound up. While there has been a decline
in the level of joy-riding, the Task Force was often criticised by local
residents. Further, since the establishment of the Task Force in 1998,
there has also been a pronounced shift in policy strategies towards
public housing management and community policing, developments that
to some extent have superseded the Task Force’s remit.
The report suggests that, in its place, a community policing/safety
forum be established.
- Issue 17, Spring ‘06
Kids with horses less inclined to joyride
Young people’s interest in equine activities is strongly evident
in Priorswood, Dublin.
Despite being a hobby that is usually depicted as ‘out of the
ordinary’, the report on joy-riding emphasised just how culturally
embedded this interest in horses has become:
"Interviews confirmed that, as one person phrased it, ‘Kids
are mad into horses… most of the kids have horses and it is illegal
because we haven’t got fields… We tried to get a project
set up, the community was fully behind it.. but they weren’t able
to get premises."
After the horse-project failed to materialize, most of the horses were
rounded up by the authorities and taken away.
Children and teenagers then took to joy-riding because the horses they
had the love and passion for were gone away.
Certainly, young people persistently link the local authorities’
efforts to remove horses from the area with an increase in joy-riding.
Although most local authority action in this regard occurred some years
ago, accounts of horses continue to feature prominently in local youth
The report recommends that future policy proposals should consider ways
of addressing this interest in the care of animals that seems prominent
among children generally, and particularly so in the case of young urban
- Issue 17, Spring ‘06
National forum on joy-riding proposed
"The Priorswood Task Force on Joy-riding has suffered through its
isolation from other initiatives to address joy-riding. Furthermore,"
noted the report, "its status as the only such Task Force has given
it an unwanted prominence in joy-riding debates nationally, despite
the occurrence of joy-riding in numerous urban centres."
The report recommends that a new national forum be established, comprising
a network of organisations concerned with joy-riding.
This would greatly facilitate the sharing of information and best practice
–through newsletters, conferences and workshops – and would
provide scope for developing coordinated approaches to joy-riding across
It suggested that Priorswood Task-Force on Joy-riding could organise
a conference on this networking idea as part of its winding down activities.
- Issue 17, Spring ‘06
Long v short-term solutions
"We believe no full account of joy-riding can avoid the fact that
the area in which it is most concentrated is one of the most deprived
areas in Dublin," say the report’s authors. "Recent
criminal justice initiatives to address crime and disorder – particularly
that associated with young males – has focused on punitive rather
than preventative solutions (even though restorative justice schemes
and other measures, have been provided for in the Children’s Act
for a number of years). While a reliance on such measures reinforces
public opinion that joy-riders are outcasts who are inherently dangerous,
the interviews reported here suggest that joy-riders often share many
of the same dreams found among the public at large: a home, a family,
a decent job. Moreover, such measures often serve to individualise a
problem which has a clear social/structural component."
"We note that while preventative measures are often politically
unpopular in the short term, they are likely in the longer term to prove
more cost-effective in terms of financial expenditure, and more successful
in terms of addressing the nature, causes and impact of such behaviour,"
adds the report.
- Issue 17, Spring ‘06
Unemployment at 10% in Priorswood
Priorswood is considered a relatively new residential area within the
greater Coolock area on Dublin’s northside. Building development
began about 35 years ago and the area is still expanding. It is situated
about seven miles north of the city centre and just south of Dublin
Airport. Priorswood consists of four housing estates: Clonshaugh, Darndale,
Moatview and Ferrycarraig.
The area as a whole is characterised by high levels of socio-economic
disadvantage, relatively high unemployment rates (10%), a very large
youth population and a consequential range of youth-related social problems
including joy-riding, illegal drug use and early school leaving.
Dublin City Council estimate the average cost per month for removing
abandoned cars from the Priorswood area at €1,200.
Children under 14 constitute 27.6% of the local population. Few residents
(8%) have progressed to third level education.
The Priorswood area falls under the remit of the North East Drugs Task
Force, the Northside Partnership and is designated as an area of socio-economic
disadvantage under the RAPID (Revitalising Areas through Planning Investment
and Development) programme.
Priorswood CDP is situated in the Outreach centre on Clonshaugh Drive.
The project’s strategic plan included most of the information
mentioned above in terms of profile.
- Issue 17, Spring ‘06
Joy-riding not ‘worst’ problem
While illegal drugs emerged as the unanimous first choice of all concerned
as the worst problem facing the area, some residents stated that ‘violence’
now challenges alcohol for second place.
One resident stated categorically that joy-riding was the third most
important social issue: “Third. The more important issues are
drugs and alcoholism. That’s right across the population (not
just young people).”
By contrast, members of the Joy-riding Task Force viewed joy-riding
as “way down the league table” of social problems.
- Issue 17, Spring ‘06
Youths lost between 13 to 16 years
Priorswood residents referred to amenities that have shut down and stressed
the importance of paying particular attention to the 13-16 year olds
who are not catered for by many of the existing policy initiatives:
"They don’t belong anywhere," said one community worker,
adding: "There are thousands of kids in the area. They’re
building a youth service with fancy office, but where are the things
that young people have asked for during a meeting with all the young
people in the area – a cyber café, an auto project, a horse
project – none of which transpired. They’re lost between
13 to 16… there’s nothing for them."
She gave the example of a young man who enquired about joining a woodwork
project but who was unable to unless and until he had some criminal
charges against him (thereby qualifying him for project work).
- Issue 17, Spring ‘06
A diary of anti-social behaviour
- From an urban estate in Ireland… a resident writes
Intimidated: The author of this Diary is known to the editor but wishes
to remain anonymous. To see what residents of some communities are struggling
with on a daily basis, read on:
“I'd heard that there was a bit of a problem with anti-social
behaviour in the area I was moving into, but seeing as I keep to myself,
I thought that if I kept my head down then I'd be left alone.
Here's how it went:
- First day, as I moved in, a stoned adolescent fired rocks and called
me "a black refugee bastard". Found out later he was on heroin,
must have effected his eyesight (I'm about as black as Bertie Ahern).
- Later, a Traveller child called me a "dirty buffer" just
because I didn't know any of the local Traveller families.
- I get regular verbal abuse from kids at the corner. I think it is
because I stand out for not wearing a tracksuit or having a local accent.
- Because my house is end-terrace, my garden was used as landfill.
- The empty house at the back was petrol-bombed and is now derelict.
- Someone stole the oil from my central heating tank.
- Someone stole tiles from my garage roof.
- One night, I found 5 teenagers trying to prise open the garage-door.
They got tired, rang the doorbell and asked for the contents. No!
- Gardai stopped me cycling home with my girlfriend. They said, "Because
ye are well dressed and have lights on your bikes, we thought ye were
- This week, a 12-year old stole my wallet on my way to work.
One of my neighbours finally advised, "If you're not from here,
you have to make friends quickly with good neighbours and let people
see that you're part of the neighbourhood. Otherwise, you become a target."
I guess the ostrich approach wasn't the smartest idea.”
- Issue 18, Summer '06