Strategy to tackle ‘out of control’ teen gang

A TOP level meeting has been held in Limerick involving senior gardaí, health and education officials and members of the probation service, to draw up a strategy to deal with a group of teenagers who are running out of control.

The group, some of whom are as young as 13, have been charged with several offences which include larceny, assault, breaches of public order and malicious damage.

Supt Frank O’Brien, who heads the Roxboro Road garda district, said the youths have a core group of eight, but have a wider group of followers.

He said: “They have assumed a kind of iconic status among their age group peers.”

Supt O’Brien called a meeting with members of the probation service and personnel from the Mid-West Health Service Executive to devise a multi-faceted approach to dealing with the group.

Gardaí say the group has terrorised people in neighbourhoods in the south side of the city.

Supt O’Brien said they are also causing problems in the city centre, where they prey on shoppers and steal from shops.

He said: “The meeting we had was very positive and we are looking at a number of approaches.”

He said a multi-agency approach has to be adopted because of the age of those involved in the crime spree.

Facilities operated by the Department of Health may be used to keep the gang members off the streets.

He said: “There is a resource issue in dealing with people so young, as there are only limited places where they can be kept. This is a real problem.”

Gardaí say the gang act as thought they are beyond the reach of the law due to the difficulty in finding adequate places of detention.

Supt O’Brien added: “There needs to be firm action to deal with this problem within the resources we have available to use. If additional resources are needed then we will seek these additional resources.”

The leaders of the gang have appeared in court and some have already clocked up in excess of 50 charges.

Meanwhile, a number of night clubs in Limerick failed to send representatives to an arranged meeting with garda bosses to discuss the growing drugs menace in the city’s night life scene.

Cocaine is widely used by clubbers in the city and gardaí are concerned at the increasing use of heroin.

Gardaí said they were extremely ‘disappointed’ that only four night clubs were represented at the meeting.

Another conference has been arranged for October 3 and gardaí want all city night clubs to be represented by senior management.

Sgt Liam Sheehan of Henry Street crime prevention office said: “It is important that we get to speak to representatives from all of the night clubs.”

Issues to be tackled include drug-dealing, public order offence and anti-social behaviour at night clubs.

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