Ipswich: Dispersal order put in place to tackle anti-social behaviour

POLICE officers have joined forces with the borough council in taking a new step to tackle anti-social behaviour in the Jubilee Park area of Ipswich,.

A Dispersal Order has been put in place following a community consultation.

The dispersal zone will come into force on Wednesday 29 August for a period of six months.

The following roads will be included; Surrey Road, Sirdar Road, Victoria Street, Prospect Street, Prospect Road, Rendlesham Road, Stopford Court, Mountbatten Court, Ainslie Road and Bulwer Road.

According to police records, there have been around 242 events in this area between 1 March 2012 and 13 August 2012. Of these, 67 are associated with anti-social behaviour, a total of around 27per cent.

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Nearly half of the calls relating to anti-social behaviour are directly linked to youth nuisance and another large proportion involve issues such as alcohol, drugs and urinating in public.

Other issues of anti-social behaviour have been recorded by Ipswich Borough Council including fly-tipping, littering and noise complaints.

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The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 created a power for a senior police officer to designate an area, with local authority agreement, where there is persistent anti-social behaviour. Uniformed police officers then have ‘a power to disperse groups where their presence or behaviour has resulted, or is likely to result, in a member of the public being harassed, intimidated, alarmed or distressed’.

A group is defined as two or more people. The individuals can be excluded from a specified area for up to 24 hours and if they refuse to follow the officer’s directions to disperse they will be committing an offence, punishable by up to six months imprisonment and/ or a fine of up to �5,000.

There is also a discretionary power for officers to take young people under the age of 16 home, or to a place of safety, after 9pm at night if they are not under the control of an adult, but this is not a curfew that requires the police to act in relation to every child out at that time.

Partnership action has been taken by Ipswich Central Safer Neighbourhood Team, Ipswich Borough Council and other agencies since February 2011. In November, a multi-agency action group was formed to help establish possible solutions.

Improvements to the park have been made such as the removal of a shelter to discourage the gathering of young people, thinning of trees and lowering of shrubs making the park more open and park furniture painted/repaired. Workshops in February half-term were provided to work with young people to improve community cohesion, activity days held during the Easter holidays, a community clean-up and a weekly coffee morning established at the local social club.

Superintendent Martin Ransome from Ipswich Policing Command said: “Tackling anti-social behaviour is a priority for Suffolk Police. This Dispersal Order will give officers extra powers and means police will be focussing additional resources on addressing issues in this area.

“At the moment the behaviour of some individuals is adversely affecting the quality of life of residents and the dispersal order will help us to deal with groups who are committing anti-social behaviour. We hope that local residents and parents will support our efforts to make this area a pleasant place for all who use it.”

Councillor Neil Macdonald, Deputy Leader of Ipswich Borough Council said: “Ipswich Borough Council is determined to stamp out any anti-social behaviour in the Jubilee Park area. We will continue to work closely with the police and other agencies to try to ensure residents’ lives are not blighted by unruly behaviour and noise nuisance.”

Local police have worked closely with Ipswich Borough Council in drawing up the Dispersal Order and have consulted with community leaders, councillors and schools in the area.

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