Police powers extended after large disturbance in centre of Colchester

Colchester High Street. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Colchester High Street. Picture: SU ANDERSON - Credit: Su Anderson

Police will today have the power to break up groups of two or more people in Colchester town centre following a large disturbance outside a nightclub.

Officers began enforcing the zone in an effort to crack down on antisocial behaviour after an incident in High Street on Saturday morning.

The 48-hour dispersal order, which launched at 6.30pm on Saturday and runs until 6.30pm this evening, gives police enhanced powers to remove anyone deemed likely to cause public harm or distress.

Officers were called to reports of people fighting and throwing bottles outside a nightclub at about 3.25am on Saturday.

Two people suffered minor cuts in the disturbance but nobody was seriously hurt.

An 18-year-old, Kalid Mohamed, 18, of Summers Lane, North Finchley, was charged with using threatening or disorderly behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm and distress.

Mike Lilley, Colchester councillor responsible for public safety, backed the decision to enforce a dispersal zone and said he planned to discuss the incident at today’s scheduled portfolio meeting with licensing officers.

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“We have to remain cautious and police are using this power because they believe it’s necessary,” he added.

Police received no reports of similar incidents on the first night of the dispersal order taking effect.

Chief Inspector Shaun Kane, Colchester district commander, said: “This incident occurred after a small number of men started fighting at the same time as people left a busy nightclub.

“We responded quickly by putting temporary road blocks in place, helping us to move traffic away from the area as we safely dispersed a large group of people.”

Ch Insp Kane said large disturbances were rare but that a dispersal order would allow officers to remove anyone causing or encouraging antisocial behaviour.

The order gives police the power to order anyone likely to harass residents, or be involved in crime or disorder, to leave the area.

Anyone who refuses to leave the area once directed can be arrested and, if convicted, could face up to three months in prison and a £2,500 fine.

Kalid Mohamed is due to appear at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, April 5.

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