Police in Causeway Coast and Glens are asking parents and guardians to be in frequent contact with their children as to their whereabouts throughout the day, to ensure they are not engaging in organised fighting.

“With just one punch, lives can be destroyed and families' lives ruined forever” - this is the message Chief Inspector Sinead McIldowney wants to get across, following a number of recent incidents where groups of young people have organised fights across the Causeway Coast and Glens area.

Chief Inspector McIldowney said: "These organised fights amongst young people must stop immediately before someone gets seriously hurt. What may start off between one or two people can quickly escalate and the potential for serious injury cannot be underestimated. Younger children in particular could find themselves being drawn into a situation that is potentially very dangerous.

"Young people are adding real value to their local community, however, a very small minority are clearly not, and we need everyone's support - parents, guardians, the community and schools, to help police reinforce this message.”

Chief Inspector McIldowney explained that officers investigate all reported incidents of organised fights and also gather evidence from CCTV footage in the town to help ensure that offenders are quickly brought to justice.

“Following a video circulating online of an assault in Portstewart , we have identified a number of suspects involved. To date we have issued one Community Resolution Notice and our investigation is ongoing.

“We would encourage young people not to comment or share what they see, as this is very upsetting for those involved and their families too.

"We are giving fair and due warning that anyone caught engaging in this reckless activity will face the consequences of their actions and could run the risk of ending up with a criminal record which will impact on the rest of their lives.

“Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams continue to work tirelessly with a wide range of partners on a number of programmes to educate children about positive lifestyle choices and to help provide schemes that constructively engage and challenge these young people. However, I must stress that this is not an issue that can be addressed by police alone.

"I'm asking all parents and guardians of young people to take responsibility and to know what their children are up to when they leave the house, and even more so come the end of the school year next week, when they are likely to be out and about over the summer months socialising with friends.

“Please closely monitor the social media apps your children are using and talk to them at home about the dangers of getting caught up in this sort of dangerous and antisocial behaviour.

“By doing so, you could be saving your own child from getting hurt!”

Chief Inspector McIldowney added: "I would appeal for anyone with information regarding this type of antisocial behaviour to call local police in Causeway Coast and Glens on 101. Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111."