'Thugette' crackdown launched

A CRACKDOWN on teenage yobs terrorising the Whitehouse area - including the growing phenomenon of 'thugettes' - began today.

Colin Adwent

A CRACKDOWN on teenage yobs terrorising the Whitehouse area - including the growing phenomenon of 'thugettes' - began today.

Police and the borough council have brought in a dispersal order in the north-west of the town after residents, shops and schools have been plagued by yobs this year.

Although the troublemakers are by no means all female, a significant number are said to be among the offenders, reflecting the rise nationally of ladettes, some of whom are now branded 'thuggettes'.

From today a designated area of Whitehouse will be the subject of the dispersal order for six-months until Friday, April 30, next year, although this can be reviewed.

The move, which involves groups of two or more people, comes the day before Halloween and trick-or-treat night.

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The order is to combat persistent anti-social behaviour and a problem with groups causing intimidation. Notices will be placed in the relevant area explaining the orders.

Police officers will have the power to disperse groups where their presence or behaviour has resulted, or is likely to result, in a member of the public being harassed, intimidated, alarmed or distressed.

The individuals can then be excluded from a specified area for up to 24 hours.

There will also be powers in the designated area for officers to take children home - or to a place of safety - between 9pm and 6am if they are not under the control of an adult. This is a discretionary power, not a curfew.

Although those involved in enforcing the orders would not comment on a rise in female troublemakers, Suryakant Patel, of Ulster News, said there had been an increase in the number of girl yobs since he came to the newsagents in 2004.

Mr Patel said: “They is a 50/50 mix of boys and girls and sometimes it's more girls involved than boys. They smoke and look like they are drinking from Coca Cola bottles, but there is alcohol in them. We would like this behaviour to stop.”

Home Office figures show a quarter of all violent assaults in England and Wales are now carried out by women.

Figures also detail the number of women arrested for 'violence against the person' has more than doubled from 37,000 10 years ago, to 88,000 last year.

INSPECTOR Richard Lane, the west Ipswich safer neighbourhood team inspector said: “Although Ipswich as a whole has seen a six per cent reduction in anti-social behaviour, agreement has been reached with Ipswich Borough Council to introduce the dispersal order as a means of nipping in the bud a growing public order issue we have in a particular area of north west Ipswich.

“Diversionary tactics are already being used and multi-agency work continues.

“The designated area in Whitehouse, to include the Ulster Avenue shops, has been identified as an area where particular groups of youths seem determined to cause disorder.

“The order with be subject to on-going monitoring and review during the six-month period.”

Andy Solomon, anti-social behaviour network manager, said: “Consideration is being given to the use of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) for individuals identified as the most problematic and acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs) for those who follow the most problematic.

“It is apparent that a number of young people are being subjected to peer pressure and bullying by the more problematic individuals and we will look to use support groups, young people's counselling and victim support to put in place measures to help them deal with these pressures anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Councillor Phil Green - Community Safety Portfolio Holder for Ipswich Borough Council said, “We want to stress that we will not tolerate this culture on our streets. We shall continue to work closely with the police to make a real improvement to local residents' lives.”

The dispersal area includes all open spaces, car parks and public spaces on or accessible from these roads.

The whole of Antrim Road, Kerry Avenue, Connaught Road, Ulster Avenue, Marlow Road and Galway Avenue, Bramford Lane between the High View Road and outside 321 Bramford Lane.

Also ten metres in to the following roads from the junctions with Bramford Lane - High View Road, Agate Close, Bennett Road and Shafto Road, Waterford Road from the junction with Connaught Road and the junction with Wexford Road, Lovetofts Drive between the junction with Antrim Road and the junction with Kerry Avenue. In addition ten metres into Wexford Road from the junction with Kerry Avenue.