Coronavirus: Police issue 31 notices to one address in south Belfast

empty bottles and cansImage copyright

Police in Belfast issued 31 notices at one residential address in south Belfast alone over the weekend.

From Sunday night until Monday morning, 55 Covid-19 notices and eight prohibition notices were issued, as part of a clampdown on parties in the Holyland and Stranmillis areas.

Police are trying to tackle “antisocial and criminal activity” in the areas, which have many student tenants.

Two arrests were made for drug possession and assault.

A passing police patrol was also flagged down and gave first aid to a 20-year-old man who was drunk and unconscious. Paramedics then arrived and brought him to hospital.

One of the people arrested was 16 years old.

The Holyland area saw 47 Covid notices and nine prohibition notices issued on Friday and Saturday night.

Belfast and a number of other postcodes in Northern Ireland are currently subject to tighter restrictions on how many people can gather.

The NI Executive’s regulations stipulate that, with limited exceptions, households should not mix indoors.

“Some people are still failing to follow the very simple, clear and specific advice, guidance and warnings issued by police, the health minister, universities and others,” said PSNI Ch Insp Gavin Kirkpatrick.

Image copyright

Image caption

The clean-up operation after a night of parties in the Holyland area of south Belfast

He appealed to parents and guardians to “speak to their young people, to ensure they know where they are, who they are with and what they are doing”.

He also urged those who have moved to the Holyland or were visiting to adhere to public health regulations.

“You must also be good neighbours as the residents of this area should not be subjected or in fear of anti-social or criminal activity,” he said.

Landlords need to “step up”

It comes as Justice Minister Naomi Long called for landlords to take more responsibility.

Mrs Long said landlords needed to “step up” and “revisit tenancies where tenants cross a line”.

The Holyland area has the highest concentration of homes of multiple occupancy (HMOs), which the minister told BBC News NI made it “hard to police”.

  • Covid-breach students face automatic suspension
  • NI local restrictions: Your Questions Answered

Mrs Long said people, not just students, were coming to the area because it had become a “magnet for anti-social behaviour”.

“The police will play their part obviously in terms of enforcement but it can’t be just the police, the universities and the city council have a role to play,” she said.

“What we need now is not just public sector agencies to engage, but actually the private landlords who are the lure that bring young people into the area, to step up and take responsibility for their tenants.”

In Stranmillis, which another area with a large student population, police issued 24 Covid notices and four prohibition notices on Friday and Saturday night.

‘Naïve to simply blame landlords’

In a statement, the Landlord Association of Northern Ireland (LANI) said landlords have been “stepping up since day one of this crisis” and had been “advising and warning” tenants about the dangers of Covid-19.

“The minister knows that landlords are limited by landlord tenant legislation, it is naïve to simply blame landlords,” the statement said.

“Twelve weeks’ notice is required before an eviction and even then a court order takes six months.”

The statement added LANI will “continue to work closely” with Belfast City Council and the Department for Communities.

On Friday, officers said they disrupted a party at an apartment where 30 people had gathered in the Holyland; three of which tried to hide by locking themselves in a bathroom.

On the same day, both Queen’s University and Ulster University said students who breach Covid-19 guidelines will face an automatic suspension.

BBC News