A LAW change to launch a booze crackdown could help police tackle summer problems in Helen’s Bay, this area’s top PSNI officer has said.

Stormont civil servants have suggested rewriting byelaws governing alcohol in the area, giving police the power to slap beach drinkers with on-the-spot fines, as well as seize and destroy bottles and cans that are still sealed – not just ones that are already open, as the law currently allows.

Ards and North Down PSNI’s District Commander, superintendent Johnston McDowell, this week confirmed that he discussed existing alcohol byelaws with a local politician, and revealed that he ‘would like to see [the laws] updated’.

The senior policeman was speaking after a meeting with North Down MLA Alan Chambers, during which the Helen’s Bay situation came up.

Summer holiday crowds have become a serious problem in the area, with regular reports of hooligans causing trouble on the sun-drenched beaches, as well as widespread public drunkenness and anti-social behaviour every year from May through to the end of August.

Said superintendent McDowell: “I met with Mr Chambers recently to discuss a range of issues, including anti-social behaviour in Helen’s Bay.

“This discussion included the Department of Justice consultation around anti-social behaviour legislation in Northern Ireland and the existing alcohol byelaws, which I would like to see updated.

“I want to reassure the public that we as police have legislative powers in place to tackle anti-social behaviour issues, and will deal with each incident reported accordingly.”

Mr Chambers said that he hopes to get to grips with the alcohol byelaws if the Northern Ireland Assembly ever gets up and running again.

The superintendent also revealed that the police are planning a road safety drive in the Towerview area of Bangor, which will include both ‘education and enforcement’.

According to Mr Chambers, that will come as a huge relief for area residents, who say there have been serious speeding problems from reckless drivers – including around schools.

Said the Ulster Unionist MLA: “I am happy that the PSNI will take action in regards to road safety around a number of schools in North Down, as well as in local residential areas.

“Motorists should remember that speed limits are not recommended speeds at which to travel, and that conditions should always dictate the safest speed of travel.

“Superintendent McDowell is a very experienced and professional police officer who talks highly of the commitment of his team. I recognise and commend recent successes by the PSNI in relation to drug seizures in the area.

“The people of North Down should have full confidence in the PSNI for their safety; it is important that the people of the area continue to be the eyes and ears of the police by reporting any suspicious behaviour they may witness, no matter how trivial it may seem.”