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New move to tackle anti-social behaviour
Tuesday 19th March, 2013

Measures to tackle persistent anti-social behaviour in specific areas of Wigan came into force earlier this month with the introduction of a temporary ‘dispersal zone’.

The move is part of a strategy to deal with anti-social behaviour and disorder in public spaces. It extends police powers so they can disperse groups of two or more people in the area if their behaviour has, or is likely to, cause the public intimidation, harassment, alarm or distress. Known as a Section 30, the powers of dispersal are granted under the 2003 Anti-social Behaviour Act.

The dispersal zone will last for six months – until September 6th 2013 - and has been introduced following agreement between Greater Manchester Police and Wigan Council. It will cover an area around Gower Street - in the vicinity of McDonald’s - and parts of Ormskirk Road, Manor Street, Michell Street and Alexandra Park.

Under the Section 30, police can order any or all members of the group of two or more to disperse (i.e. split up but remain in the designated area), order them to disperse and leave the designated area, if they live outside of it, or order them to disperse and leave the designated area, if they live outside of it, and not return until a specified time, up to a maximum of 24 hours

In addition the Section 30 also provides powers to remove anyone under the age of 16 to their home address between the hours of 9pm and 6am if unsupervised by an adult.

Cllr Kevin Anderson, cabinet champion for safer communities, said: “Partner agencies work together continuously to ensure that Wigan is a safe place to live and people feel safe in their neighbourhoods.

“A Section 30 has been applied to this area previously and saw positive results. We feel confident that re-introducing this very effective tool will provide reassurance to people intimidated by large or rowdy groups, and send out the clear message to anyone engaging in this behaviour that it will not be tolerated and action will be taken against them.”

The measures could help to highlight the more problematic individuals, potentially resulting in referrals to other agencies for support to address their behaviour. Anyone failing to comply with the direction to disperse is committing an offence and can be arrested and prosecuted.

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