[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 08:11 GMT 09:11 UK
Vandals 'cause damage over 1m'
Windows have been smashed in several schools
Windows have been smashed in several schools
More than 1m has been spent repairing criminal damage, often caused by children as young as eight, in the Newtownabbey area.

The figures from the police and Home Office also show that most of the vandalism has been targeted at schools.

There have been 87 attacks on schools alone since April costing 77,000.

Most of these happened during the summer school holidays, but just last weekend over 100 windows were smashed at a primary school.

A nine-year-old was arrested in connection with the incident, but was returned home to his parents because he was under the age of criminal responsibility.

The police had to be called and we had customers running into the shop afraid
Shop manager

District Commander Superintendent Will Kerr said parents must ensure they know what their children are doing.

"Some of the kids involved are as young as eight or nine," he said.

"Some are under the age of criminal responsibility, but there is a clear issue around parental responsibility and parental control. Why are these kids out unsupervised?"

'Greater police presence'

The manager of one business in the area said she was forced to close early after a group of up 70 youths began fighting outside.

"The police had to be called and we had customers running into the shop afraid," she said.

"They were aged from as young as eight, up to about 16 or 17, and we had to end up closing the premises for two hours earlier than normal."

The manager said she would like to see a greater police presence in the area.

One teenager interviewed by the BBC admitted he had been involved in vandalism, mostly through "boredom".

Arson scene (generic)
We also had a very serious arson attack, where our whole music department was destroyed and we lost all our equipment
Fiona Pride
Newtownabbey Community High

"Everyone was doing it - trying to be a hard man," he said.

He said he was aged about 13 and his parents would not have known what he was doing.

"They would have killed me," he said.

Superintendent Kerr said he would "strongly dispute" the teenager's claim that the "police hardly come through here" anymore.

The officer said the PSNI had a "very positive and very constructive relationship" with the community, particularly in Rathcoole.

The principal of Newtownabbey Community High, Fiona Pride, said her staff would be doing their part to tackle anti-social behaviour.

"We have been subjected to two serious attacks recently," she said.

"In the summer term, we had 18 windows smashed - a number of which were in brand new science laboratories which hadn't even opened.

"We also had a very serious arson attack, where our whole music department was destroyed and we lost all our equipment."




SEE ALSO
Children arrested over vandalism
14 Jul 06 |  Northern Ireland

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific