The following information was provided to the Community Bulletin Board by Stephanie Garner-Winship, MAGPI West Neighbourhood Officer, Community Safety Partnerships Unit, Islington Council.
Islington Police and the council have put in place a Dispersal Order in the Bemerton Estate and Thornhill Square area of Islington to run from 18 February 2011 – 17 May 2011.
This is in response to an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB) by groups of young people congregating in the area. It will provide extra protection to residents over the next three months.
1. What is a Dispersal Order and how does it affect me?
A Dispersal Order enables the police to tackle problems with people behaving anti-socially and making life difficult or unpleasant for other people.
It’s used to deal with groups of two people or more who are causing problems in the area.
If you are going about your usual business in the area and not behaving in a way that could intimidate or upset anyone else, then the dispersal order will not affect you.
2. How do I know where it is?
There will be signs in the area which will include a map showing the dispersal zone boundaries.
3. What can the police do?
Dispersal Orders enable the police and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) to direct groups of people who are causing problems to split up, leave the area and not return for 24 hours.
It is a crime if you do not do what you are told (‘directed’) to do, and will lead to arrest.
4. Under 16?
If you are under 16 years old and you are not with a parent or responsible adult (over 18), and you are involved in anti-social behaviour, police officers or PCSOs may take you to your home address or to a place of safety.
This does not mean you are not allowed to be in the dispersal zone if you are under 16. If you are behaving in a reasonable and considerate way, the dispersal order won’t affect you.
5. What if I live inside the dispersal zone?
If you live within the dispersal zone, you cannot be directed to leave it but you can be directed to disperse (split up from the group of people).
6. How is a direction given?
The officers will explain to each person what direction(s) they are giving them, complete a ‘stop and account’ form for each person and ask for their details. Whenever possible they will give them information about the direction they have been given and a map of the dispersal zone.
If you are given a direction, you have not committed an offence at this stage. It is a criminal offence if you do not do what you are directed to do.
7. What if I’m arrested?
It is a criminal offence to breach a direction you have been given by a police officer or PCSO. This can result in a criminal conviction with a punishment of up to six months imprisonment or a fine of up to £5,000.
If you repeatedly breach directions and you are convicted, the police and council will consider applying for an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO). This is far more serious and can place an individual under strict conditions, and is punishable by up to five years imprisonment if breached.
For further information you can contact Caledonian Safer Neighbourhood Team on
020 7421 0271 or 07876 132092 . Alternatively you can contact the council’s Community Safety Team on 020 7527 4200.