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YOU ARE HERE > COMMUNITY > LOCAL NEWS > THIS TIME IT'S DISPERSAL!
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This time it's dispersal! - By Polly Rivers

January 26th 2007

EDENBRIDGE residents have been praised by police for reacting ‘incredibly well’ to the town’s recent dispersal order.

The newest weapon in the battle against antisocial behaviour in the town came into force on January 8, and is set to continue for four months. 

The order was introduced following an increase in complaints from residents about the level of antisocial behaviour within the town. Neighborhood Sergeant Steve Lea said: “This was primarily community driven.

Sergeant Lea of Edenbridge Police

We had had a large number of local residents and business owners complaining about antisocial behaviour in the town, and felt that something further definitely had to be done”.

The dispersal order has allowed police to instruct groups of two or more people to disperse if they are behaving in an anti-social manner. If the instruction is ignored, the police now have the power to arrest the person. Prosecution can lead to a fine of up to £2,500 or a term of up to three months imprisonment.

 

And from the early results, it would seem that the scheme does appear to be working. Town council clerk Christine Lane said: “Since the order has been in place the town has been very quiet. There have been much fewer complaints that we have been aware of.”

 

However, with a shelf life of only four months, the dispersal order is hardly a permanent solution to an ongoing problem. And the question on everyone’s lips is whether the results of the operation will continue once the police presence is withdrawn?

young people in Edenbridge

 

“This is only one of a number of measures being taken to combat the problem of antisocial behavior in the town.” Answered Sergeant Lea. “Although we are time limited to only four months, we hope that this will be enough time to allow us to identify the offenders we need to keep a closer eye on.”

 

Borough Green Parish Council employed the same scheme early last year. The council chairman Barry Hughes is adamant that the residents play a very active role in making sure the results of the four month experiment remain consistent.


He said: “Following our time with a dispersal order, the community definitely became more aware of the problem of antisocial behaviour, and that something had to be done.” New initiatives such as a community warden and a heavier police presence were installed in the town, and consequently the level of complaints has remained low.

Mr Hughes said: “I firmly believe that it is not the order, but the way that it forces people to think more about the problem that makes the biggest difference.”

Click HERE to find out what local residents had to say about the dispersal order.
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