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Police crackdown on town centre yobs
GROUPS of unruly and intimidating yobs who loiter in the town centre on an evening are set to be moved on in a new police crackdown.
From April the police will impose a dispersal order, which will allow them to break up gangs and prevent them returning within 24 hours.
It follows mounting problems with teenagers throwing objects and abusing passers by on pedestrian areas of St Helens town centre.
McDonalds restaurant and the Range are among businesses that have complained about yobbish behaviour.
Many of the youngsters causing the problems are believed to be travelling into St Helens from other towns.
Inspector Dave Brennan, who polices the town centre, said the ‘dispersal order’ will not be directed at late night revellers or youngsters who act within the law.
He said: “There are quite a lot of groups coming into the town, primarily from Knowsley.
“And these can cause problems such as low level anti-social behaviour including criminal damage.
“It could be a matter of throwing things around or intimidating people by shouting abuse.
“These numbers have started rising over the last few months.”
Inspector Brennan said that under section 30 of the Anti Social Behaviour Act they have the power to split up groups of two or more from areas where there is persistent nuisance behaviour.
He added: “It will be in place until October 6.
“We carried out a survey of businesses which were in favour of what we are looking to do along with the town’s councillors.
“We have also had support from McDonalds and the Range in helping us provide information.”
Inspector Brennan said the youngsters are often using social media to coordinate their movements. “You can’t control social media but it certainly plays a part.
“But this is not about just targeting groups. It’s about those that cause trouble and the difference they can make in certain areas of the town.”
St Helens Council Leader Barrie Grunewald backed the move, saying there had been a “worrying increase in anti-social behaviour in the town centre at specific times”.
However, both police and the council have stressed the move does not relate to skateboarders.
As reported previously, a separate application to ban skateboarding from parts of the town centre is with St Helens Council.
Cllr Grunewald said: “I want to be very clear that this section 30 order is not related to the issues of skateboarders and I do not expect the powers will be used in dealing with that issue.
“Everyone who visits our town centre, young or old, has the right to feel safe and this order will help achieve that."
A 'designated area' is a specific area where police officers have the power to: • Break up groups of two or more people who are causing anti-social behaviour • Send under 16s home • Arrest anyone who ignores their instructions The area has been authorised by Merseyside Police and is supported by our partner, St Helens Council.
It will cover all the public areas inside the following boundary, as well as the roads themselves:
• Westfield Street to Cotham Street
• Cotham Street to Bickerstaffe Street
• Bickerstaffe Street to Library Street
• Library Street to Corporation Street
• Corporation Street to Parr Street
• Parr Street to Linkway East
• Linkway East to Linkway West
• and Linkway West to Westfield Street
The order will be in force every day between 5pm and 11pm.
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