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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 October 2006, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Damage surges over Halloween
Fireworks
Fireworks can cause distress to pets

While Northern Ireland is touted by tourism chiefs as a great place to celebrate Halloween, it has also emerged as the time of year when crime is at its height.

Across Northern Ireland there is a surge in anti-social behaviour.

Figures obtained by the Belfast Telegraph showed there were 1,000 criminal damage offences recorded during Halloween last year, more than during the riots following the widespread trouble after the Whiterock parade.

The paper points out a number of reasons for the surge, from more teenagers on the streets to multiple crimes associated with fireworks.

Pet distress

Police commanders are preparing strategies to deal with trouble over the period, which will include high profile patrolling in trouble hotspots and deploying mobile CCTV cameras in some areas.

Superintendent Brian Maguire, the district commander in Castlereagh, said the vast majority of incidents involved youths throwing fireworks.

"In a lot of those cases when police actually turn up the people concerned are long gone but there's the annoyance that's been caused - people have felt the need to call us up," he said.

"There is a huge under-reporting of crime of this sort of category - in reality you could say we're getting the tip of the iceberg here.

Anxiety

"When we turn up, if we find them and they are still there, we will take robust action."

Youths causing trouble are causing concern to many, but it is more of a problem for vulnerable people in society, especially the elderly.

Pam Tilson, the Political Affairs Officer for Age Concern in Northern Ireland, said elderly people especially became concerned for their pets.

"Halloween can be a distressing time of year for older people particularly those who are pet owners," she said.

"Many pets become stressed by the noise of fireworks and this results in anxiety for the pet owner."

Last year, 86 people were hurt by fireworks across Northern Ireland, mostly young men.

The dangers were highlighted at the weekend, when a nine-year-old boy was treated in hospital after a firework went off in his hand in Belfast.

More than 1,000 illegal fireworkswere were also seized by detectives in County Tyrone.

The police said 1,000 bangers, 125 rockets and two boxes of fireworks were found during the search of a house at Evish Grove, Strabane, on Saturday.


SEE ALSO
Fireworks stash seized at house
22 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland
Firework goes off in boy's hand
21 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland
Helping dogs fight fireworks fear
20 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland
Increase in NI firework injuries
10 Feb 06 |  Northern Ireland

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