Dispersal powers granted for Bideford police

The section 30 order means groups causing or likely to cause trouble can be dispersed from the town for up to 24 hours.

POLICE in Bideford will be armed with dispersal powers for the festive period starting today (Fri).

Torridge District Council and the police have worked together to introduce the power meaning groups of two or more people who are causing, or are likely to cause, anti-social behaviour within a designated area can be dispersed.

Those dispersed can be ordered to leave the area for a period of up to 24 hours and can be arrested if they breach the order.

Sgt Helen Holmes of the Bideford neighbourhood beat team said: “In conjunction with Torridge District Council, we are pleased to see that Bideford has reaped the benefits of its status as a safe town to live, work and socialise.

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“This brings large numbers of people to the town centre each year, particularly during the festive period.

“We are keen to stress that this order is utilised to ensure the enjoyment and safety of the large majority of persons coming to the town centre, and is fully supported by the council, residents and business owners.”

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The dispersal order will run until 6am on January 6 and the police hope it will ensure residents and visitors to the town enjoy a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year.

The operation will involve officers from the Bideford Neighbourhood Beat Team, Bideford patrol officers, members of the special constabulary and officers from The Force Support Group.

Officers will work in close liaison with the town centre CCTV control room to monitor groups seen to be causing issues within the town, and the success of this partnership, helps to maintain confidence in local officers to deal with a problem minority quickly and effectively.

Councillor Andy Boyd, lead member for community safety at Torridge, said: “In previous years when the order has been used, significant decreases in offences such as criminal damage, public order and drink related anti-social behaviour have been recorded.”

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