Prosecution warning as early closure fails to foil station vandals

Coleraine Railway Station.
Coleraine Railway Station.

Translink has issued a ‘perpetrators will be prosecuted’ warning amid continuing frustration over anti-social behaviour at Coleraine Railway Station.

A decision was taken at the end of last month to close the station to the public at 7.00 pm due to the activity of a large group of teens but that failed to rectify the situation as Translink inspector David Simpson explained.

“They are now coming in earlier than 7.00pm,” said David. “There could be anything from 10 up to 40 of them and they range in age from 12 and 13 years of age up to 18, 19 20 and they are just there to vandalise.

“Then what they are doing when they get chased out of Coleraine is going to Ballymoney and trying to vandalise it. In fact over the weekend they went up to Ballymoney and smashed one of the windows.

“The situation is intimidating for both our staff and for the public who use our services but we aren’t prepared to put up with it and we are taking steps.

“We are currently in the process of prosecuting some of them and it is in the hands of our legal team who are waiting court date. Unfortunately that takes time but rest assured we will prosecute.

“We also have meetings set up with the council, the police, the street pastors and we are even going to do school visits to try and bring an end to this behaviour.”

Last week Translink revealed that it would be providing body cameras for its staff across the network in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour and to aid evidence gathering, a measure Mr Simpson welcomed.

“The cameras will record everything that happens and that will make it easier to identify the trouble makers.

It will also make it easier for prosecutions as well.

“We are also introducing panic alarms for our staff in different locations which is an added safety measure for them.

Veronica McKinney, Assistant Rail Service Delivery manager said “We have examined industry-wide best practice on the use of body cameras, whose aim is to deter anti-social or unacceptable behaviour on our trains or at our stations. We have a zero-tolerance approach to any anti-social behaviour and these cameras would act as an evidence gathering mechanism in the event of such behaviour”.

Veronica also said: “Safety of our customers and staff is our number one priority and the introduction of these body cameras is another step in ensuring this.

“If bus or train crew or station staff witness an incident of anti-social behaviour, it is reported”.

She concluded: “Translink continues to operate a reward scheme, which offers up to £1,000 reward to anyone who gives evidence leading to a successful prosecution”.