Barnstaple ban on festive yobs

POLICE will be given special powers to help keep Barnstaple town centre safe this Christmas. As well as stepping up plain clothed and high-visibility patrols, police will now be able to crack down on groups of troublemakers with Section 30 dispersal order

POLICE will be given special powers to help keep Barnstaple town centre safe this Christmas.

As well as stepping up plain clothed and high-visibility patrols, police will now be able to crack down on groups of troublemakers with Section 30 dispersal order legislation that comes into force from 12noon today (Wednesday).

The order - in place until Monday, January 4 and endorsed by North Devon Council - will enable officers to disperse groups of more than two people for 24 hours. Under the terms of the order, powers granted under the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act, offenders could be arrested if they fail to leave the area, or return within the specified time.

Similar legislation used last Christmas resulted in a 42 per cent reduction in anti-social crimes such as criminal damage, assaults and public order offences, including threatening behaviour and being drunk and disorderly.


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Barnstaple Sector Inspector Tom Holmes said that feedback to the 2008 initiative had been very positive.

He said: "From the reports I have had from my officers, the town's licensees, businesses and members of the public, Barnstaple was, as ever, a pleasant place to enjoy, particularly during the busy evening time in the run up to Christmas and New Year.

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"My officers work tirelessly to ensure the people of Barnstaple benefit from low levels of crime and disorder. Christmas is of course a busy and enjoyable time of year and I would like nothing more than to see the whole community enjoying all that the town centre has to offer, and this includes a vibrant night-time economy.

"This Section 30 is one of a number of measures which have been put in place to ensure, as far as possible, that we do all we can to prevent problems before they happen, and reassure the public that Barnstaple is a safe place to live visit and socialise, particularly during the festive season.

"Officers will, as always, police the festive season with common sense, discretion and good humour. But we also want to send a strong message out to the tiny minority of troublemakers that we will not tolerate their behaviour disrupting or ruining Christmas for the community we serve."

Last Christmas, police used the powers 12 times to disperse trouble-makers before serious issues arose.

Kate Morne, of Safer North Devon, said the Section 30 received unanimous support from all agencies including the district and town councils, the Youth Offending Team, Safer North Devon, Devon Youth Service and Barnstaple Town Centre Management.

"We want to send out a clear message that the police and council work closely together and with all agencies, and that they are intent on doing all they can to make Barnstaple an even safer and more appealing place shop, socialise and enjoy the Christmas and New Year period.

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