Police have warned they will be clamping down on street drinking in Belfast during this year’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
A large number of visitors are expected to gather in the city to enjoy the carnival and family friendly atmosphere.
But in recent years the Holylands area - a popular location for student housing - has witnessed scenes of chaos as drunken St Patrick’s Day celebrations have spiralled out of control.
Last year, the PSNI came under attack as violence erupted in what both the then Universities Minister Stephen Farry and police described as “disgraceful” levels of disorder.
PSNI Superintendent Melanie Jones has urged young people to enjoy themselves “safely and legally” at this year’s event.
She added that, as in previous years, police will be working alongside Belfast City Council, Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Ulster, Belfast Met and local schools, who will again proactively encourage young people and students to stay off the streets of the Holyland on St Patrick’s Day.
Supt Jones said: “In the past, overindulgence in alcohol has led some people to act in a way they would never do when sober. This has previously resulted in assaults, damage to property and annoyance to others and we are making it clear that this behaviour is not acceptable.
“We are planning joint enforcement patrols with Belfast City Council’s Antisocial Behaviour Officers to seize alcohol from anyone drinking in the street and to minimise antisocial behaviour in general. Students who become involved in rowdy or disorderly behaviour risk disciplinary action by their universities, colleges and schools.
“Young people have every right to enjoy each other’s company and the celebrations, but I would just like to remind them that what might initially seem like fooling about can sometimes get out of hand and end up in a criminal record which can affect travel, education and employment opportunities in the future. It is really important that young people understand this.
“I am asking parents and guardians to help us keep everyone safe on the day. Make sure you know where your young people are, what they are doing, and please talk to them about the impact of underage drinking and the danger of getting caught up in the moment and the possible outcomes they could face if they are found committing any offences.
“Our message to the public is to come and enjoy all that Belfast has to offer – but to do so safely. Any unruly behaviour affecting the enjoyment of the majority, caused by people who celebrate to excess, will not be tolerated.”