Police have handed out 10 community resolution notices and eight fixed penalty notices carrying £60 fines after responding to house parties in breach of Covid-19 restrictions in Belfast’s Holyland.
The Holyland area of south Belfast has a large student population and has previously experienced problems with noise and other anti-social behaviour, given the tendency for large numbers of young people to gather there.
However, the current situation with restrictions in place to try to limit the spread of coronavirus has caused particular concern about house parties still being held.
Five arrests were made in the early hours of Wednesday and police confirmed on Thursday that further action had been required in the area.
PSNI Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick said: “Some young people who have moved to the area to pursue their studies, and others visiting the area are not listening to our repeated warnings.
“Last night, we gave advice and guidance at a number of residential properties. However, 18 of those people we spoke with failed to understand the seriousness of the situation.”
Where appropriate, we now will liaise with the universities and colleges who will consider their own sanctions against any students involved.
Chief Inspector Kirkpatrick said that, despite multiple appeals, some young people were not heeding the message.
He added that, at one address, a group of people were found hiding in a bathroom.
“Our message is very clear - all students must follow the health and safety advice and specific guidance regarding houses of multiple occupancy provided by the universities,” Chief Inspector Kirkpatrick said.
“Only six people, from a maximum of two different households, can gather indoors in a private dwelling.
“Students living off campus must also be mindful of the importance of building good relationships with local residents.
“They must be respectful of their neighbours who do not want to kept awake all night with parties and do not want to have their property damaged.”
According to the PSNI, work with universities and colleges and with partner agencies and resident and community representatives will continue.
“We have dedicated substantial resources to policing this area throughout the coming weeks and will robustly address any antisocial behaviour and criminal offences,” Chief Inspector Kirkpatrick said.
Localised restrictions for Belfast, Ballymena and the BT28, BT29 and BT43 areas have been announced at Thursday evening's press briefing from the NI Executive, limiting movement between households to those in support "bubbles" and other limited arrangements.
Only a maximum of six people from no more than two households will be able to meet in gardens in those areas for at least the next two weeks.