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Police Given Extra Powers To Tackle Antisocial Behaviour

Published on: 28 Dec, 2013
Updated on: 1 Jan, 2014
Map showing the main area covered by the new Section 30 Dispersal Order.

Map showing the main area covered by the new Section 30 Dispersal Order.

Guildford town police have been given extra, discretionary powers to crackdown on antisocial behaviour and disperse those who they believe, through their behaviour, could intimidate others.

The neighbourhood police team have been granted a ‘Section 30’ Dispersal Order for specific areas within Guildford Town. The order came into force on Monday, December 23 and will last for six months.

The dispersal area relates to the area bounded by Onslow Street/York Road, High Street/London Road and Leapale Road.

The application for this Dispersal Order has been implemented to combat ongoing incidents in the affected area which include large groups gathering and intimidating members of the public and residents; people openly drinking alcohol and using controlled drugs as well as littering the area.

The purpose of the legislation is to prevent people from feeling frightened and discouraged from using public places because they feel threatened by the actions and behaviour of groups of people.

Section 30 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 contains powers to disperse groups of two or more people. If they return to the same place within 24 hours they can be arrested and prosecuted. It also allows the police to return a young person home if they are under 16-years-old and unsupervised in a public place after 9pm.

Part of the purpose of the new police powers is to protect children and young people from the risks of being unaccompanied on the streets late at night, with the attendant risk of older peers encouraging them into criminal activities.

The law applies if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the presence or behaviour of a group of two people or more has resulted, or is likely to result, in any member of the public being intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distressed.

Police High vis 475x240pxNeighbourhood Sergeant Helen Budd said: “We are not prepared to tolerate the poor behaviour of a minority of individuals who are affecting the quality of life for residents and retailers in this neighbourhood. The Section 30 Dispersal Order is not something we apply for lightly, but in this instance, it is the only effective way to deal with this community problem.”

The order was subject to the approval of Surrey Police Superintendent Duncan Greenhalgh and Guildford Borough Council. By supporting the application, the Borough Council has enabled Surrey Police to utilise the powers conferred under Section 30 of the Anti-Social behaviour Act 2003 with effect from 23 December 2013 – 23 June 2014.

A police spokesperson stated: “Details of the order are displayed locally and if you are experiencing alarm, harassment or distress associated with groups gathering in the area outlined in the map please call Surrey Police on 101 ensuring that you mention to the operator the Section 30 Dispersal Order GD/12/749 and the problems you are experiencing.”

Cllr Richard Billington (Con, Tillingbourne), lead councillor for community safety and health, spoke of the need for a team approach to dealing with crime and disorder at a meeting with the Police Crime Commissioner at G Live earlier this month.

Cllr Billington told the Dragon today (December 28): “This is a great example of team work between the local ward representative, the police, and Guildford Borough Council all working together to bear down on antisocial behaviour.”

Cllr Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas), who lives close by, said: “I am very pleased that the Section 30 Dispersal Order has been granted. For most of 2013 I have been contacted by concerned residents who have witnessed or been a victim of the increasing level of antisocial behaviour in this area.

“The frustrating delay to the start of the work on the Bellerby Theatre site has allowed the area to become popular for ‘hanging out’ and generally behaving in a disruptive and antisocial manner.

“The many residents of all ages who walk through this area on their way to and from town have endured challenging behaviour that in some cases has made people change their route to and from town. But the people most affected are those who live within the area of the Dispersal Order. They have suffered months of aggravation, confrontation, noise disturbance and criminal acts. Children walking home from school have felt threatened in broad daylight, and some residents have felt unsafe in their own homes. This is totally unacceptable.

“It has taken many weeks of team work to get the order approved and I can only hope that it will change lives for those who have been so severely affected. Of course, when work starts on the Bellerby Theatre site in the New Year, the area will become busier and less isolated, which will also help the situation.”

Local residents have left the following comments on the Guildford Beat facebook page:

Mick May: “Good job.”
Will Knowlton: “Excellent, bored of having to cross the road with my five year old because of this.”
What is your view are these new police powers a good thing, or not? Please use the ‘Leave a Reply’ feature below to have your say.

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Responses to Police Given Extra Powers To Tackle Antisocial Behaviour

  1. Chris Warner Reply

    December 28, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    A large proportion of the anti social activities within Guildford are fueLled by the alcohol supplied to the younger generation by large public house groups and overcrowded nightclubs owners.

    As these business are making enormous profits from the drinkers would it not be feasible for a slice of the costs, if only by contribution, be offered towards the costs policing the town during the evening and early hours of the morning by the businesses concerned.

  2. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    December 30, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Is six months long enough? Why not all the time, and why is bridge street not covered by this? Have those making the decisions walked down there at night? It is the main route from the railway station but it look like a dump. It can be very intimidating to walk there on your own, or even with friends, especially at night but, sometimes, during daylight too. It just looks like a horrible part of town that needs some tlc. How no one has been killed there at night I don’t know.

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