Children as young as six were involved in rioting in Londonderry, with officers attacked during the disturbance.

Police vehicles were pelted with paint petrol bombs, heavy masonry and fireworks during the disorder, which broke out as officers were trying to deal with a sudden death.


A security alert was then triggered following the discovery of a suspicious device in Southway, in the Creggan area, at around 7.45pm on Tuesday.

The alert was later discovered to be an “elaborate hoax”.

Footage of the riotChildren as young as six were involved in rioting in LondonderryITV

Chief Superintendent Gillian Kearney described the trouble as “senseless” and said the involvement of children was “criminal exploitation”.

Disorder broke out just before 8.00pm and lasted until around midnight.

“That disorder occurred as officers were dealing with such a sensitive incident is shameful,” she said.

“It also serves to damage local communities and divert our resources away from dealing with the things that matter most.

“There are reports of children as young as six and seven years old being involved. This is child criminal exploitation.

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“It also serves to damage local communities and divert our resources away from dealing with the things that matter most.”

A 36-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of riotous behaviour.

There are no reports of injuries, but some police vehicles were damaged.

Kearney continued: “We know from the work our officers do on a daily basis, what happened last night will have provoked anger in the local community and wider area.

“I want to reassure the community that my officers will be out today working to remove drugs from the streets, responding to domestic abuse calls and protecting communities from those who seek to cause harm to the most vulnerable. I want to commend the officers involved last night.”

u200bColum Eastwood

Colum Eastwood said: ‘The people of Derry do not want this. And none of us want to see children throwing opportunities away by getting involved in this.’

PA

Politicians have criticised the involvement of children in the attack. The leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Colum Eastwood appealed for calm in Londonderry.

He said: “It’s particularly disheartening to hear reports that children may have been involved, risking their own futures for thoughtless attacks on police Land Rovers.

“The people of Derry do not want this. And none of us want to see children throwing opportunities away by getting involved in this.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Unionist Party assembly member for Foyle, Gary Middleton, said reports that young children were involved “beggared belief”.

He said: “They were used and exploited by others in that area who clearly put no value on the lives of those children or the police officers they were attacking.

“This was a disgraceful attack on police officers who are working on behalf of the entire community to keep us safe.”