Teen injured in new gang attack

TEENAGE gang attacks in Newtownards are continuing with a 14 year-old boy the latest victim of this disturbing craze.

The young victim required hospital treatment for facial injuries after being set upon by a group of young teenage boys on Friday evening on the Canal path, near South Street.

Police arrested one 16 year-old on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm, and he has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

And police have also issued an appeal for information about a separate beating handed out to another 14 year-old boy in Newtownards which took place on May 13.

The incident follows a spate of vicious attacks on young teenagers by gangs of up to 20 people – including boys and girls, with the youngest reported as being 11 years-old – in recent months.

The brutal attacks were recorded on mobile phones and shared on social media, including Snapchat, which has this week responded to the attacks and the social media sharing by saying it takes children’s security online ‘very seriously’. 

The videos posted onto an account called ‘NI Scraps’ and ‘Ards and North Down Scraps’ have since been removed. 

It is understood the craze has been going on for several months and the borough’s most senior police officer recently confirmed that police have dealt with ‘around a dozen’ young individuals involved in five recorded beatings. However, he said police are aware of ‘more similar incidents that have not been reported’.

He said those involved have come from a socio-economic cross-section of Newtownards society and some ‘from very good homes.

A police spokesman has appealed for information on the latest attack which occurred at 5pm on Friday evening on the Canal path.

“Enquiries are continuing and police would appeal to anyone with any information in relation to the assault, to contact them on 101 quoting reference number 1679 26/05/23,” said Inspector Doherty.

“Alternatively, information can be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Police have also issued an appeal for information about the assault of another 14 year-old boy, dating back to Saturday, May 13.

The boy was attacked near the roundabout at John Street and Dairy Hall Lane in Newtownards, by up to five males.

“If you can help, or possibly have dashcam footage, then please contact police on 101 and quote reference 1559 of 23/05/23,” added Mr Doherty.

Strangford MP, Jim Shannon, has called for the PSNI to crack down on the incidents and has questioned the role of parents in ensuring their children are not involved in such incidents.

“Recently the Chronicle showed photographs of young people attacking other youths and a distraught family showed me the video,” said Mr Shannon. “The ferocity of the attacks and violence shown is particularly worrying.

“There has been a further attack along the canal in Newtownards and that has illustrated that there are still some who think that they can get away with it.

“There is also a key and important role for parents to know what their children are up to and that those involved in vicious attacks need to know that a kick or punch in the wrong place could kill.”

Mr Shannon urged people with information to help the police act against the problem.

“They need to be responsible and accountable, and I would urge anyone with information to contact the PSNI and ensure that this violence stops immediately.”

Commenting on reports of the assaults being shown on its platform, Snapchat stated: “We take these matters very seriously and appreciate you bringing this incident to our attention,” said a statement from Snapchat.

Prior to the apparent removal of the ‘Scraps’ accounts, the social media platform said ‘we will be happy to investigate this issue further’.

It said people could report offending ‘snaps’ or posts by ‘pressing and holding on the offending Snap and tap ‘Report Snap’ to let us know what’s going on’.