Law used for first time to crack down on antisocial problems in Washington

LAW CHANGE: Inspector Paul Stewart.
LAW CHANGE: Inspector Paul Stewart.
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NEW powers brought in to tackle bad behaviour have been hailed for successfully tackling disorder in a town.

Northumbria Police says in recent weeks, there has been an increase in the number of reports of antisocial behaviour in Lambton Village Centre and Holley Park in Lambton, Washington.

The reports have included minor assaults, damage to children’s play equipment and youths drinking alcohol and causing a nuisance.

Over the weekend, officers from Washington Neighbourhood Policing Team used powers under the new Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB), Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The Act was launched last week and sees police forces and local authorities working together more closely than ever before to help tackle ASB, which is a priority of the police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.

The powers include a new dispersal order that allows uniformed officers to issue directions to people believed to be causing, or likely to cause antisocial behaviour, to leave an area for up to 48 hours from the time and date that the order was granted.

On Friday, officers on patrol around Lambton Village Centre and Holley Park issued 16 people - youths and adults - with an order, effectively excluding them from the area until Sunday evening.

There were no reports of crime or disorder received across the weekend.

Washington Neighbourhood Inspector Paul Stewart said: “This is an excellent tool for us to use in policing our local communities and especially for dealing with anti-social behaviour hotspots.

“The use of the order this weekend evidenced this in removing the issue from the area in its entirety by diluting numbers and removing the problem element from groups.

“It’s important that we simply just don’t move groups on and displace the problem, this power allows us to seize alcohol from adults and youths alike as well as taking children or youths to a place of safety such as home to their parents.

“It’s the first time we’ve used the power to give such an authority in Sunderland since it was introduced and we intend to consider the use of the power more often in the future.”

Deputy leader of Sunderland City Council and chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, Councillor Harry Trueman, added: “We should all welcome additions to our combined powers of enforcement, which help us take immediate and appropriate action against any groups or individuals responsible for antisocial behaviour.

“Being able to provide a targeted response to a specific problem in a specific area, is one way to address local concerns and their underlying causes to prevent them becoming long-term issues for the community.”