Agenda item


The Director of Neighbourhood Services provided the Members with an overview in respect of the levels of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) within Council Parks over a 3-year period.


            He highlighted that, as previously advised, within Community Safety and OSS over the last 3 years there had been significant pressures upon staffing resources, with new staff (temporary and permanent) having been appointed, this had further been exacerbated by sickness absence and annual leave requirements, all of which had impacted upon the consistent recording of data.  In addition, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and recovery phases, the limited OSS and community safety staff had been at the front line delivering essential services to the public. The redeployment of staff to cover essential services had therefore impacted upon services within parks which had also contributed to an inconsistent capturing of data on ASB.


            The Director referred to theAPP-CivicaDatabase which captured information collated by Council staff and complaints made in relation to ASB in the City. 


            He referred to the table below, which detailed the ASB figures recorded over the last 3 years across 52 Council parks and also a more detailed breakdown of these figures that had been attached as an appendix to the report:





3 Year Combined






            He reiterated to the Members that the figures might not provide an overall accurate picture of ASB within Parks and outlined that their usefulness in terms of determining patterns or hotspots was extremely limited for the following reasons:


·        residents complaining about ASB in Parks state that they don’t always report every incident; 

·        the Capturing information on ASB within Belfast City Council parks lies within the responsibility of Park Wardens, ASB Officers, and Safer Neighbourhood Officers. However, Safer Neighbourhood and ASB Officers are not located within parks but are rather deployed in the City centre and neighbourhoods;

·        a team of Park Wardens is located in each quadrant of the City and each Park in the City is patrolled daily, with the more problematic parks receiving more targeted patrols than others; 

·        the Park Warden Service operates within the current Parks closing times (dawn to dusk).  However, the Department and the PSNI do plan and carry out interventions outside these hours in response to large events in Parks, reports of ASB and underage drinking.


            The Director continued that, along with the resource pressures, officers had also identified that there had been a variety of ways in which the teams had captured data (if at all) which presented challenges in obtaining reports that had accurate data and from which conclusions could be drawn.  In addition, he advised that a short review of current recording mechanisms of ASB within Parks would be completed by January 2023 to ensure there was a standardised and robust approach to capturing ASB data across all parks going forward.  This would include a review of how members of the public could report ASB in parks.


            He also drew the Members’ attention to the PSNI figures below relating to incidents of ASB across the City, comparing April – September 2022 to the same period last year. This noted an overall reduction in recorded incidences in all areas.



April – Sept 2021

April – Sept 2022


% Change

Lisburn Road










Tennent Street










Belfast City






            Several Members stated that they were aware that underreporting was an ongoing issue and, whilst they welcomed the update, they acknowledged and agreed with the need for a more robust and accurate way of recording the data for incidents of ASB data across the City.


            A Member referred to the Customer Hub and the need to ensure that there was a standardised process for the collection of the reported data.


            Discussion also ensued regarding the skill set and training of Council officers in both dealing with incidents and ensuring that they were accurately recorded.  


            Several of the Members referred to specific cost to the Council in repairing the damage created because of ASB and requested that a report detailing these costs be submitted to a future meeting.


            A Member referred to successful community intervention measures that had been undertaken in other Council parks, specifically Dunville Park, and stated that rather than focusing on closing parks earlier or introducing further control mechanisms, for example, additional fencing or gates, they would be keen to explore positive intervention measures to encourage use and community ownership of Council parks. 


            Another Member asked for a report detailing the cost of completing the remaining required lighting in Falls Park.


            A further Member suggested that, in terms of looking at how problems and incidents of ASB were recorded, additional signage/posters could be erected throughout the parks (not just at the entrances) providing a direct telephone number for the reporting of incidents/problems which might encourage members of the public to report problems.


            Discussion ensued, following which the Committee noted the content of the report and agreed the following actions:


·        officers to liaise with Digital Services, the Customer Hub, Business Support and relevant CNS staff to develop a system to better capture ASB within BCC parks; 

·        in the interim period, the Council would aim to train all staff that worked within Parks to record ASB through the Flare system to ensure a more standardised recording system was in place from January 2023, with reports brought to Committee on a regular basis.  This review would also consider concerns around the under reporting of ASB and how this could be improved;

·        noted that further work was required to review the roles of Park Wardens and Safer Neighbourhood Officers in regard to preventing and addressing ASB across the city;

·        noted that, when a more robust system for consistently capturing ASB data was in place, then it might be possible to use this information to develop and target Council interventions in problematic sites;

·        noted that Springfield Avenue Play Park was not on the list and agreed to have it added;

·        agreed that a subsequent report would be submitted to the next meeting of the Committee that would give consideration to successful interventions that had been previously untaken in other Council parks, in particular Dunville Park, and how similar initiatives might be applied to other Council parks with ASB problems;

·        agreed that a report be submitted to a future meeting that would detail the costs to the Council of undertaking repair works to parks that had been damaged because of ASB; and

·        agreed that the Director of City and Neighbourhood Services would liaise with the Director of Physical Programmes to ascertain the cost of completing the remaining required lighting in Falls Park with an update report to be submitted to a future meeting of Committee.


Supporting documents: