Police clampdown on Letchworth GC town centre

POLICE are to get tough on anti-social behaviour in Letchworth GC town centre. This week Herts Constabulary announced a six month dispersal order to assist police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) tackle anti-social behaviour and nuis

POLICE are to get tough on anti-social behaviour in Letchworth GC town centre.

This week Herts Constabulary announced a six month dispersal order to assist police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) tackle anti-social behaviour and nuisance youths in the area.

The order, under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, comes into force tomorrow (Friday) and can remain in place until December 1.

The order gives powers to police officers and PCSOs allowing them to disperse groups of two or more persons that are causing or are likely to cause harassment alarm or distress to members of the public.

Police can ask members of the public or persons in a group to leave the relevant locality and not return within 24 hours. Failure to comply with such a direction can result in the arrest of that person.

Sgt Steve Oliphant from the Letchworth Neighbourhood Team said: "For a sustained period of time the team have dealt with the issues of anti-social behaviour and low level harassment of members of the public in the town centre.

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"Many of the reported incidents mention groups of younger people congregating around shops and restaurants with the main issues arising during the warmer weather, school holidays and in particular at weekends.

"In the last two years officers and PCSOs, working in partnership with North Herts District Council, have been using different tactics to reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour in the town centre, these include high visibility and plain clothes patrols, the use of CCTV and targeting those believed to be involved in incidents.

"The team have also visited schools to educate young people of the issues around anti-social behaviour.

"I am pleased we have been granted the use of such powers in Letchworth GC, I am confident they will prove very useful. Those committing anti-social behaviour are in the minority however, it is important we do all we can to ensure law abiding citizens can go about their daily business unaffected and not feel intimidated."

Letchworth GC town centre manager Martin Fletcher said: "Many people have said there is a problem but it is not severe. This will be very useful in dealing with low grade anti social behaviour that makes the town centre a less pleasant place to be.

"This is a valuable tool for the police because when anti social behaviour happens it can be quite distressing for the victims."

Colin Bell, manager of the Garden Square Shopping Centre, said: "It sounds super to me and is a good call by the police.

"In this current climate we cannot afford to have anti-social behaviour that might put visitors or shoppers off from coming to the town centre.