Only time will tell the effects of our police's dispersal order

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First published in News

MUCH like the ASBO before it, dispersal orders have become the in vogue policing technique.

For the first time since they came into existence in 2003 the city now has two of the orders in place simultaneously.

The force says they are an effective deterrent to anti-social behaviour and cite the past six months in Speedwell Street as an example of this.

The road was the focus of the city’s first ever order and the law was used nine times, with two arrests.

Some might argue such meagre numbers display a lack of enforcement and that the old policing technique of bobbies on the beat would have yielded more effective results.

But the police maintain the low numbers were because of the high deterrent factor and those in the area have reported a reduction in incidents.

It is why they have rolled it out to St Clement’s, where residents and businesses have been blighted by anti-social behaviour.

One hopes this is indeed an effective way to target this nuisance, which can have a traumatic effect for people, especially the elderly. But there is always the fear this is simply policing on the cheap in the face of tough budget cuts – a convenient way of seemingly showing the force is doing something while not dedicating any resources to it.

The other worry is it simply moves the problem onto somewhere else, spawning more dispersal orders as the problem is bandied from one area to another.

Time will tell if this is the case.

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