|Community safety drive for Wigan town centre
Temporary measures designed to help crack down on public disorder and anti-social behaviour relating to the night time economy have been introduced in Wigan town centre.
The Section 30 Dispersal Zone, introduced before Christmas in a bid to make the centre safer over the festive period, will be in place through to the summer.
As part of these measures, police officers and PCSOs are able to tell groups 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.
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.
The area covered encompasses the whole of the town centre, including Mesnes Park, Parsons Walk, Frog Lane, Wallgate, Darlington Street, Powell Street and Bridgeman Terrace.
Inspector Glenn Jones of the Wigan Neighbourhood Policing Team says:
"By introducing a Dispersal Zone in the town centre we can police the area more effectively and target specific issues, particularly those relating to the night time economy.
"This measure gives police officers and PCSOs greater powers when dealing with groups congregating in public places and causing a nuisance.
"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 town centre a more pleasant, safer place for everyone.
"We anticipate this order will prove as effective as those already in place in other parts of the borough in dealing with potential disorder that may affect the public enjoyment of Wigan town centre."
Details in regards to the Dispersal Zone, which began on 14th December 2012 at 1.00pm and ends at 1.00pm on 14th June 2013, have been posted in locations where the zone begins, together with guidance about what it means to members of the public.
The Section 30 is part of a wider strategy aimed at dealing with the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage.
Licensed premises across Wigan town centre have also signed up to Best Bar None, a voluntary scheme administered by Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Police which aims to reduce instances of alcohol-fuelled crime and anti-social behaviour.
Cllr Kevin Anderson, cabinet champion for safer communities, says:
"Wigan is recognised as a safe place to live, thanks in no small part to the way in which partnership agencies work together.
"The Section 30 has proven to be an effective tool, providing reassurance to people who may feel intimidated by large or rowdy groups. Wigan town centre is a popular night time destination and we are not kill-joys.
"But we want to send out a clear message that we will not tolerate harassment in any form and we are committed to ensuring people visiting the town centre enjoy a safe night out."
The introduction of a Section 30 in Wigan town centre follows similar measures in other parts of the borough, including Norley Hall, Standish and Beech Hill.