AROUND five hundred people took to the streets of Coleraine last Thursday night to protest over what they claim is a lack of confidence in the police’s ability to clamp down on drug dealing and anti social behaviour in the Heights area.
The march began in Killowen and took in the Heights before making its way across the town to the Police station where a letter of compliant was handed over to Chief Inspector Brian Hume.
The protesters requested that the letter be brought to the attention of Chief Constable Matt Baggott.
The letter was handed over by Coleraine DUP councillor George Duddy and DUP East Londonderry MLA’s George Robinson and Adrian McQuillan.
Many of those who took part held placards reading ‘Police Service - What Police Service?’ and ‘Drug Dealing + Informing = Immunity’.
Speaking to The Times after the march, DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan said that the DUP had facilitated a meeting with the community of the Heights and Killowen areas some time ago.
He said that the meeting highlighted the fact that the community were unhappy with the police response to crime and ongoing problems in the area.
“The community felt that they were being left out on a limb, and the protest march was their idea to highlight their concerns,” told Adrian.
“We now hope that following the protest there will be extra policing on the streets and the ongoing anti social behaviour problem in the area will be dealt with.
“There are serious cases of intimidation and drug dealing in the area which the community feels are not being dealt with.
“It is very important that this community feels that the police are there for them.
“In the run up to the protest we had people from both sides of the community contacting us. And some of the stories were harrowing.
“One Catholic woman told me how she got a taxi to the shop, just around the corner, as she was in fear.
“Others admitted having pokers and other items in their homes incase something happened.
“People should not need to live like this - they need a police force that they can rely on.”
The DUP MLA went on to say that the turn out on Thursday night highlighted the “deep feeling” in the area.
“The numbers that turned out show how strongly the people feel, all that they want is a fair and proactive police force.”