Council demand action on ‘diffing’ scourge

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MAGHERAFELT District Council are demanding that the PSNI tackle the scourge of ‘diffing’ in the South Derry area.

Members plan to raise the matter with police chiefs at a meeting of the Policing District Partnership next Monday.

Nationalist and unionist councillors were united in their call for action against the dangerous drivers before someone gets killed.

BY STANLEY CAMPBELL

They are also considering reducing the size of the car park at Newferry, Bellaghy, where ‘diffing’ regularly takes place.

Councillors heard 60 vehicles recently gathered at the site over a four-night period for organised ‘diffing events. A vehicle was burnt out beside the car park.

DUP Chair Councillor Paul McLean said he counted three large tyre circles at road junctions between Tobermore and Draperstown.

He said one resident had told him about hearing a car spin for seven minutes at a main road junction in the early hours of the morning.

Councillor McLean said it was time the PSNI stepped up patrols and apprehended those responsible.

Ulster Unionist Councillor George Shiels claimed sign-posts in parts of the district were being knocked down as a result of the practice.

Sinn Fein Councillor Brian McGuigan said ‘diffing’ is not new and has been an ongoing problem in the Ballinascreen area for many years.

He said it often took place in public places such as outside pubs with members of the public on the streets.

Councillor McGuigan pointed out that Ballinascreen Community Group have been trying to address the problem, including the possibility of providing a ‘diffing’ track at the Desertmartin motocross circuit.

He cautioned that texting and social networking sites were being used to bring people in from other areas and the problem would not be easy to solve.

He added that in recent months he had heard of a few incidents which could have resulted in fatalities.

Sinn Fein Councillor Ian Milne he knew of elderly people who were being “terrorised” in the dead of night by “diffing”.

He condemned those involved and called on the authorities to take more steps to curb the practice.

Vice Chair Councillor Catherine Elattar said she was “sick sore and tired” of raising the matter with the PSNI, who she believed did not have any answers for it.

DUP Councillor Tommy Catherwood said it was a serious problem which was now taking place in broad daylight at road junctions.

Sinn Fein Councillor Sean McPeake said the PSNI would have to re-dedicate their efforts to stopping the problem.

DUP Councillor Anne Forde argued that the PSNI should “put more men on the ground” to tackle the problem.

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