Gangs banned from Ipswich estates

THREATENING groups were today being banned from part of Ipswich in new move to free terrorised estates from the grip of vandals and thugs.A dispersal order giving police the power to ban individuals from Queen's Way and Reynolds Road was today being imposed for the first time in the town.

THREATENING groups were today being banned from part of Ipswich in new move to free terrorised estates from the grip of vandals and thugs.

A dispersal order giving police the power to ban individuals from Queen's Way and Reynolds Road was today being imposed for the first time in the town.

It is part of a continued crackdown on antisocial behaviour by Suffolk police, together with Suffolk county and Ipswich borough councils.

Under the new power – part of the 2003 Antisocial Behaviour Act – troublesome individuals can be banned from the area for 24 hours. Officers can also take unsupervised youngsters under the age of 16 home after 9pm.

Failure to comply with the order, which will be in place until March, can lead to a six-month jail term or a £5,000 fine.

Chief superintendent Geoff Munns, of Suffolk police, said: "This is a means of nipping in the bud a growing public order issue we have in two specific areas in the south east of the town.

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"The designated areas of Queen's Way and Reynolds Road have been identified as areas where particular groups of youths seem determined to cause disorder."

It is the second time such a move has been employed by Suffolk police, with the first targeting troublesome estates in Kirkley, Lowestoft.

Since being introduced in July, police have revealed crime has been reduced by more than 20 per cent.

Chief Supt Munns said: "The primary use of these powers will be to deter these youths from causing nuisance and will only be used for that specific purpose.

"The new legislation enables us to work closely with the borough and county council to target quality of life issues for the communities around Queen's Way and Reynolds Road.

"We want to ensure it remains the sort of environment where people feel safe."

Today's move follows a summer of discontent for many residents and traders in the area, particularly in the Queen's Way shopping parade.

The trouble peaked in late July when a stand-off developed between police and youngsters.

Shop windows were smashed and cars damaged as police were called to the shopping strip for four consecutive days.

There has also been a spate of vandalism in the area, with windows smashed and traders reporting damage to their shops.

A number of arrests have been made, including cautions for children as young as 11.

Yusuf Erdal, owner of Pizza Chema in Queen's Way, said police had worked hard to improve the situation in recent weeks but he added that the new powers would help things further.

"I think this will help things get better," he said.

He added: "It will fix it."

Ipswich borough councillor Bradley Maguire, who represents Priory Heath ward, said the new dispersal powers had the full support of local councillors.

"We hope it will work. I think you have to try it," he said.

"It will expose the parents if anything. If the officers take the child home then that will put pressure on the parents.

"Some of the residents have asked why has it taken so long but we had to do it right."

What do you think of the order? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTfacts: What is a dispersal order?

A dispersal order is a designated area, agreed with the local authority, where there is persistent antisocial behaviour and a problem with groups causing intimidation.

Once a senior police officer and the local authority have identified the area, they have to publicise the fact. The order can remain in force for up to six months.

In these areas, police and community support officers can disperse groups where their presence or behaviour has resulted, or is likely to result, in a member of the public being harassed, alarmed or distressed. The individuals can then be excluded from the area for up to 24 hours.

It is an offence to ignore a dispersal order, although being asked to leave the area is not an offence in its own right.

There is also a discretionary power allowing police or community support officers to take children home after 9pm if they are not under the control of an adult.

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