Town centre yob reports drop after police get new powers

St Helens Star: Town centre yob reports drop after police get new powers Town centre yob reports drop after police get new powers

CALLS to the police about anti-social behaviour in the town centre dropped in nine days that followed the introduction of new powers.

The dispersal order was brought in to give officers powers to move on gangs of unruly youths who cause trouble.

The measures were introduced amid concerns St Helens town centre was become a focal point for yobs, who were hurling abuse, throwing objects in shops and intimidating passers by.

Peter Mallett, the council’s crime and justice co-ordinator told a meeting of the Safer Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel at St Helens Town Hall: “It has also seen calls to the service reduced but we must take it in context.

“McDonalds (on Church Street) has been shut and that is the focal point.

“But we will monitor that.

“At the moment it’s looking like having a positive impact. Youths are leaving the area without incident.”

He also addressed issues that some youngsters fear they may be targeted if they are in the town centre in groups.

“If you are not causing any problems you are OK.

“Last Friday I counted at least 40 people in Church Square but there were no concerns or complaints.”

Chief Inspector Martin Woosey from Merseyside Police told the meeting: “This is not our first course of action.

“I would expect the officers to speak to them. That is the chief consideration.

“This is not about targeting young people.”

The committee’s chairman Councillor Paul Lynch sought assurances that the operation was not directly aimed at the skateboarders who congregate primarily in Church Square during late afternoons.

Peter Mallett responded: “If a member of the public were to approach an officer and say they have nearly been knocked over then maybe they would have to take action.

“But at the moment that’s not happening.

“This is not a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

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