Getting tough on town teen gangs
POLICE have been given new powers to tackle gangs who cause trouble in Newcastle town centre.
A dispersal zone has been set up to allow officers to move on groups of two or more people if they are behaving anti-socially – or if they are likely to do so.
The order also gives police the power to send home under-16s found roaming the streets after 9pm. It comes in response to complaints town shoppers are being intimidated by groups of youths and adults shouting, swearing and drinking.
Inspector Mark Barlow, from Newcastle Borough local policing team, said: "Our officers are working closely with other agencies and the community to address issues in the area, as there are a number of people whose actions are causing a nuisance and distressing other members of the community.
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"The powers, which have been granted to police under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, will help us target those who, despite earlier interventions, are continuing to cause harm to the community."
The Section 30 Dispersal Order lasts for six months and gives the police the power to:
Disperse groups of two or more;
Take young people under the age of 16 years home after 9pm;
Order people not to return to the zone within 24 hours – providing the person concerned does not live there.
Individuals refusing to follow instructions will be committing an offence and face arrest.
Traders in the town have welcomed the move. Carl Evans, pictured below, president of Newcastle Chamber of Trade and Enterprise, who also runs Cartridge World in George Street, said: "It's a really good idea. Anything that makes the town centre more attractive is good."
Businessman and fellow chamber member Trevor Miles said: "It's just a few people causing problems, and it's not just young people. Anti-social behaviour cannot be tolerated.
"Shoppers should feel comfortable and relaxed.
"If people are using foul language and shouting it makes people, particularly the elderly, feel intimidated.
"This order can be used to get rid of that nuisance."
Jason Bould, business crime manager for the Newcastle Partnership Against Business Crime, said: "A number of traders comment on the amount of anti-social behaviour, particularly after school hours, and this is an extremely useful preventative measure,"
"It covers both the day time and night time economy too, which is particularly useful."
Newcastle Borough Council has worked with police to launch the zone. Councillor Tony Kearon, cabinet member for safer communities, said: "Groups of people behaving in an aggressive and threatening manner can make people feel anxious and fearful and even drive them away.
"These powers will allow the police to nip this behaviour in the bud before it escalates."