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RESOURCES: Proven solutions to anti-social behaviour

Duhallow’s Response to Anti-Social Behaviour

Duhallow boxing 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 in
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 joining.
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 birth certificate.
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.

Why boxing?

“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 in Ireland

Together re ASB 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 11).
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 rape threats.
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 in Monaghan

By Robert McNamara

Monaghan junior BEST 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 area.
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 the USA).”
For more info, contact Gerard Callan. E: gcallan@midl.ie 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

press conferenceAs 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.

burnt out carIt 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.

ACHIEVEMENTS

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: swccdp@iol.ie - Issue 17, Spring '06

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 representatives:

  • Under-reporting of incidents;
  • Intimidation;
  • A feeling of a lack of resources;
  • Call-out times/lack of response;
  • Implementation of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.

Issue 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 development.
- Issue 17, Spring '06

 

€500 was enough to start a youth club in Kilkenny

500 euro note 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 activities:

"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 as time:

"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 Watch

By Ger Fitzgibbon

CCTVAnn 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

MusiciansThe 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 school breaks.

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 to congregate.

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 Saturday evening.

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 things were.

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

 

Sonic deterrent is a techno answer to 'pesky teens'
- And Kerry Partnership youth officer is disgusted

Kilorglin youngstersFor 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 Ger Fitzgibbon.

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 damaged."

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 hanging around!"

"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, Spring '06

Kilmore West multi-pronged approach


Stephanie Leamy

In Kilmore 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 anti-social behaviour:

  • 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

 

pool table

Mahon develops Community Policing Forum

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.

Simply, 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.


Tier 1:

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 if necessary.
 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.

Tier 2:

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," explained Viv.

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 happen.

For further information, telephone Viv Sadd, Mahon CDP, on 021-4359070. - Issue 17, Spring '06

 

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 activities).

The multi-agency approach alleviated the problem to a large extent.
- 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 it serves.

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 interviewed

"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 councillor.

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, he replied:

"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 good?'"

  o For more information, contact Faranree CDP 98 Knockpogue Ave, Farranree, Cork. Tel. 021-4211822. Fax: 021-4211823. E-mail: fareecdp@indigo.ie - 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 report.

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 notoriety.

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: mary.outreach@oceanfree.net - Issue 17, Spring '06

 

Recommendations of joyriding taskforce report

Ramps Ahead signThe following are some of the key recommendations made in the report titled:
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 CDP.

• 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 and teenagers.

• 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 priority.

• Life on large-scale labyrinthine public housing estates often brings a sense of physical vulnerability and insecurity, say the authors, adding:

"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 culture.

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 males.
- 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 Ireland.

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 lost tourists."
- 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