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Powers extended to tackle unruly groups in ASB hot spots
Friday 28th October, 2011

Neighbourhoods affected by anti-social behaviour are welcoming the introduction of new powers designed to discourage groups from gathering and causing a nuisance.

Following joint action by Greater Manchester Police, Wigan Council and Wigan and Leigh Housing, new Section 30 Dispersal Zones are being rolled out in hot spots across the borough in response to a spate of public order offences.

The latest Section 30s will target anti-social behaviour in communities in Westleigh, Beech Hill, Scholes and Higher Folds in Leigh.

Residents and shop owners in Higher Folds reported feeling intimidated by groups congregating around the precinct, whilst residents on the Trees estate in Westleigh had complained of incidents of criminal damage and the targeting of vulnerable people by groups of youths.

On Beech Hill estate, a 6-week order is being introduced in a bid to tackle a recent spike in incidents; whilst the existing Section 30 on Scholes precinct has proven to be so effective in combating ASB that partners are now extending the zone to include the Platt Lane estate which has experienced more than a hundred incidents of ASB in the past twelve months.

The Section 30 gives additional powers to police officers and PCSOs which enables them to tell people to leave the area either immediately or by a deadline; they can also tell people who don’t live in the area to leave and not to return for up to 24 hours.

These latest Dispersal Zones are part of an ongoing boroughwide strategy aimed at dealing robustly with the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour and criminal disorder.

In other areas of the borough where a Section 30 has been introduced, including areas around Beech Hill, Standish and Norley Hall, there have been significant reductions in reported incidents of ASB from local residents, and partners are currently carrying out a comprehensive survey to assess the full impact of the measures.

"The latest raft of Section 30s come into affect on Hallowe’en, during a period typically associated with a surge in anti-social behaviour,” says Supt Andrea Jones of Greater Manchester Police, Wigan Division. “But we want to make it clear that we are not demonising young people, who are often unfairly stigmatised. We intend to use these powers to target all perpetrators of unacceptable behaviour, especially that which is alcohol-fuelled."

"We want to reassure the public that the police will not necessarily disperse groups in this area just for being in a group, and we recognise that not all groups are causing a nuisance. This is not an exclusion zone or curfew area but it is designed to make the area a more pleasant, safer place for everyone."

As part of these measures, any time after 9.00pm and before 6.00am teenagers below the age of 16 and not under the control of a parent or responsible person over the age of 18 may also be taken home or to an alternative place of safety.

To remain or return to the area having been told to leave may be an offence under Section 30(4) of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, punishable by 3 months imprisonment and/or a fine up to £2,500.

Cllr Kevin Anderson, Wigan Council's cabinet champion for the Environment and Communities says: "Vulnerable residents can feel intimidated in the communities where they’ve lived all their lives, and this is totally unacceptable. Agencies will not stand by and allow rowdy groups to create unofficial ‘no go zones’ where decent law-abiding residents are afraid to venture. This joint action sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate harassment or intimidation in any form."

Dispersal Zones represent one of the practical measures employed by agencies to tackle ASB. Other tools include the boroughwide DPPO which was introduced in July to address the nuisance and disorder caused by persistent street drinkers. Partners also tackle ASB through community engagement and public awareness campaigns, such as the current ongoing initiative, Operation Treacle.

Details in regards to the Dispersal Zones will be posted in locations where the zones begin, together with guidance about what it means to residents and members of the public.

The Dispersal Zone in Higher Folds in Leigh covers an area which includes the precinct, Coronation Drive, Imperial Drive and Richmond Drive. It comes into affect on Monday 31st October at 15.00 and ends on 12th December at 14.59.

The Dispersal Zone on the Trees estate in Westleigh covers an area which includes Bright Street, Holly Grove and Yates Street. It comes into affect on Monday 31st October at 15.00 and ends on 30th April 2012 at 23.59.

The Dispersal Zone in Scholes covers an area which includes Caunce Road, Platt Lane, Scholes and Vauxhall Road. It comes into affect on Monday 31st October at 15.00 and ends on 30th April 2012 at 23.59.

The Dispersal Zone in Beech Hill covers an area which includes Beech Grove, Bluebell Avenue and Forest Avenue. It comes into affect on Monday 31st October at 15.00 and ends on 12th December 2011 at 14.59.

All land locked within the perimeter of the streets is also part of the Section 30.

For further details in regards to the Section 30 in Beech Hill and Scholes, please contact Wigan Neighbourhood Policing Team by calling 0161 856 7124 or emailing wigan.apt@gmp.police.uk

For further details in regards to the Section 30 in Westleigh and Leigh, please contact Leigh Neighbourhood Policing Team by calling 0161 856 7225 or emailing leigh.apt@gmp.police.uk

To report non-emergency incidents or to report a crime call 0161 872 5050. Only call 999 in an emergency where there is a threat to life or a crime in progress. To report incidents of anti-social behaviour in the area, contact Wigan Council’s ASB helpline: 01942 404364.

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