With crowds in excess of 100,000 expected to descend on Portrush this week, police are urging the public to play their part towards a safe and enjoyable week for everyone.
Police, who will be on hand in the area to help promote safety and reduce disorder, are warning that a robust approach will be taken against anyone who disrupts the weekend for others.
Coleraine Area Commander, Chief Inspector Nicky Thompson said: “Months of planning, and hundreds of hours work have been expended in preparation for the races, and spectators owe it to the organisers to travel to and from the circuit safely; and to ensure that there are no ugly scenes of disorder on display at the trackside or in the seaside towns of Portrush and Portstewart during race week.
“This year, we have an additional race event taking place on the Thursday evening so traffic disruption is likely. The safety of those attending and particpating at the eveny is of primary importance to police, so we would ask patience from the local community regarding any disruption they might incur.
“The North West 200 is one of a number of high profile events taking place in the North Coast area this year. The Irish Open Golf Championship and Milk Cup Football festival will see an increase in footfall in the area and only grows the strong reputation of the area as an enjoyable and safe place to live, work and play.
“The difficulties of last year’s event has only strengthened the resolve of those involved to maintain the family friendly atmosphere generated by the event. When you arrive at the circuit, make full use of the official car parks and don’t park in a prohibited area, or where your vehicle could cause an obstruction to ambulance routes or to public or private entrances. And, for your safety and the safety of the competitors, always obey the instructions of race marshals, once circuit roads have closed, said Chief Inspector Thompson.
Coleraine Coast Neighbourhood Inspector Paul McCracken added: “Responsibility for a week free from anti-social behaviour and public disorder falls on everyone, and is integral to the event’s continued success. We will have additional resources in place to ensure that we meet the policing needs and expectations of local residents and visitors alike. Whenever possible, policing will be unobtrusive, but we will retain the ability to react quickly to any situation should the need arise.
“It is understandable that no one wants to miss a second of the excitement that takes place throughout the week and that people will be reluctant to give up their chosen vantage point particularly during the practice sessions and on race day. Nevertheless it is good manners to recognise that the gardens of local residents are not a place to dump your rubbish. Please remember that litter blowing onto the circuit presents a real danger to the competitors so please take your rubbish home with you, or dispose of it properly.
“With all eyes on the racing, people also need to take sensible precautions to prevent their property from being stolen. It is important that valuables are not left in cars, and that motorcycles and crash helmets are properly secured if left unattended. If you do happen to see any activity that raises your suspicions, please contact us straight away on 0845 600 8000.”
“Police would also advise those staying in the number of caravan sites and offical NW200 sites in the Causeway area to respect the local community and residents. Often, police receive reports of antisocial behaviour and we would ask patrons staying on the sites to be wary of the people who live in the area day and daily.
“Areas where on-street drinking is prohibited are clearly signposted. This year I would like to see people exercise more self-restraint, and take it upon themselves to observe the on-street drinking restrictions that are in force, but if necessary my officers will enforce the By-Laws,” he stressed.
“I hope that everyone has a great week at the North West 200, and that this year’s event is enjoyable, safe, and free from crime and traffic collisions,” concluded Inspector McCracken.