New police powers for groups of louts

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POLICE in Chesterfield town centre are to get new powers next month to split up loutish groups after complaints about drunken behaviour, spitting, littering and bad language.

The Section 30 Dispersal Order powers come into effect on July 1 and give officers the right to split up and move on groups of two or more people found congregating in the Market Place, the area behind McDonalds, the entrance to the library, the Low Pavements shopping centre and the path running to Rose Hill.

Derbyshire Police and Chesterfield Council agreed for the introduction of the Dispersal Order after an increase in calls about anti-social behaviour and groups gathering in the area.

Chesterfield Community Safety Partnership Sergeant Les Rawson said: “Calls have been made about drunken and loutish behaviour, spitting, littering and use of obscene language as well as groups causing a general obstruction to pedestrians.

“CCTV footage provides further evidence of groups involved in anti-social behaviour and, as a result, the decision has been taken to introduce a dispersal order.

“The intention is not to make the Market Square and surrounding streets a no-go area for teenagers or groups of people who are going about their lives in an orderly manner. What we intend is to put a stop to groups disrupting the town centre and making people feel unsafe.”

If groups asked to move fail to do so they may be arrested and face fines of up to £2,500.

Anyone under the age of 16 could be taken home by police officers.

Coun Sharon Blank, chair of Chesterfield’s Community Safety Partnership, said: “Chesterfield Council is fully in support of this order. We are determined to do what is necessary to prevent a minority adversely affecting those visiting and working in the town centre, particularly at a time when businesses are already affected by economic pressures.”