TWO dispersal orders will be in place across the city for the first time since the police were given extra powers.
It comes after 275 complaints were made about drunken behaviour and drug abuse in the St Clements area of Oxford.
Police have now introduced a dispersal order – giving them the power to order troublemakers to stay away and break up groups of two or more people – for the area.
It will cover St Clements, Angel and Greyhound Meadow and the area between and will come into force on Monday.
Police will have the power to break up groups of two or more people and take home unaccompanied under-16s in the area after 9pm.
It will be the first time Oxford has had two dispersal order zones at once since they were created by the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act.
The other, at Speedwell Street, will be in place for another six months from Monday.
Out of a total of 563 calls from the St Clemets area to Thames Valley Police this year, 275 were about anti-social behaviour.
Homeless drinkers gather every night on York Place, according to residents, make noise and take drugs.
Queen’s College home bursar, Linda Irving-Bell, said the problem was making life intolerable for staff at The Florey Building there.
She said: “People scream, shout abuse at those in the building and drink beer, it is absolutely terrible.
“Our caretaker lives down there with her family and her young son and she’s afraid to use her outside area. People leave needles and go to the toilet along there.
“It has been going on a long time but it increased this year.
“We have conference delegates staying there and they have complained numerous times, we are at risk of losing that trade which we need to support our student costs.”
She said drinkers used to congregate in St Clement’s car park, but since new homes were built there this year they had been pushed into York Place.
She added: “Hopefully the police don’t just use a dispersal order, hopefully it’s part of a wider approach to engage with these people.”
Anna Kostro, who has lived at Anchor Court in York Place four years, moved from a flat overlooking St Clement’s to one further back this week because of late-night drinkers making noise.
She said: “People have a right to enjoy themselves but if there were more police around they would think twice about breaking the law.”
Anti-social behaviour officer Mike Ellis said complaints had been received about people having bonfires in the meadow, drinking, vagrants in the park damaging trees, and “loutish behaviour” in St Clement’s.
He said: “We tried traditional policing methods of engaging with people. The community response team went on patrols trying to point out this behaviour won’t be tolerated when there are groups hanging out. It is clear from these figures this is a growing problem.”
The order will last for at least six months, then be reviewed.
PC Ellis said the people causing problems in the St Clement’s area were not the same ones who had caused problems in Speedwell Street displaced.
The last time a dispersal order had been used in the city was in Rose Hill eight years ago.
WHAT IT MEANS
- SECTIONS 30-36 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 (ASBA) gave police in England and Wales powers to disperse groups of two or more people from areas where there is persistent anti-social behaviour, as well as take home under-16s on the streets in a dispersal zone between 9pm and 6am who are not accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.
- A new Anti-Social, Crime and Policing Bill, which would over-write current dispersal orders, was introduced to the House of Commons last year. That bill is expected to receive Royal Assent by the end of the year.
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