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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 11:54 GMT
Yob concern at entertainment site
The Odyssey Complex
The Odyssey Complex opened in 2000
Management at Belfast's Odyssey complex has said it does not accept there is a "disproportionate problem" with bad behaviour at the complex.

It follows comments by a city magistrate who said the site seemed to be attracting loutish behaviour.

Last year, police said there were 94 arrests at the east Belfast entertainment complex.

The chief executive of the Odyssey, Peter Holmes, said it was still a family friendly venue.

"If people had been down in the Odyssey over the past fortnight when the schools were off (they would see) the place is absolutely full of children and young people going to W5, the cinemas and restaurants during the course of the day," he said.

"It does change in the evening, it becomes more of a restaurant, bar and later a nightclub venue, but it is still very much a family friendly destination."

The comments stemmed from a hearing in Belfast Magistrates Court on Monday, relating to the arrest of a man at the complex.

Resident Magistrate Desmond Perry said that it seemed to him that the complex was "attracting the same type of behaviour seen at Bradbury Place a year or so ago".

"This is particularly worrying as the Odyssey, at its inception, was meant to be a place for family entertainment," he said.

Police said they have worked in partnership with the Odyssey since before it opened.

In the beginning, the Odyssey had an arena, cinema and cafe, and required modest police resourcing, they said.

Customers outside Odyssey Complex
The numbers using the centre have increased

Now, four years on, approximately 4.2 million people per year use its facilities.

Police said they worked even closer than before with the Odyssey to provide resources for premises with a late licence, which remain open when the family oriented entertainment is coming to a close.

In a statement the police service said: "Officers from East Belfast District Command Unit will continue to ensure the Odyssey remains a safe venue for everyone to enjoy, and anyone who is seen to create a disturbance will be dealt with appropriately by police."

Local Alliance Party councillor Naomi Long said she was concerned at the level of bad behaviour being reported, and that if police were dealing with "yob" incidents at the Odyssey then they were not patrolling the streets of east Belfast.

"It is an important tourist attraction, it's an important resource for the city and we don't want it being sullied by the actions of a few reckless people," she said.

"I think there is a way round this, when car crime was a particular issue (at the site) the police and the trust worked together and managed to get this resolved.

"I think we need to do this inside the complex."

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