NEW police powers to banish troublemakers that only came into force last month have already helped tackle decade-long problems in East Oxford.

Police can now put a dispersal zone in place to tackle antisocial behaviour for just 48 hours and they have already used this across the city.

Residents in Reliance Way said the two-day exclusion order a week ago had stopped teenage yobs who had been terrorising the area for almost 10 years.

The new power was given to police in October under the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.

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It enabled officers to order a person who has committed, or is likely to commit, antisocial behaviour to leave an area and not return for two days. Reliance Way neighbourhood watch chairman Tony Brett said a gang of up to 25 youths had been riding stolen bikes, smashing windows and spraying graffiti for several years and problems had escalated in the recent months.

The 43-year-old former city councillor, who works in IT for Oxford University, said: “It got to the point where quite a few residents were saying the police needed to do more.

“It’s never a happy outcome when these things have to be used.

“I am just glad it has happened.”

Over the weekend Thames Valley Police said there were no reports of antisocial behaviour.

The force said the orders were already “frequently” being used in the city centre to “ensure a safe and welcoming environment”.

Spokeswoman Rhianne Pope said: “The 48-hour orders are a swift and robust way of managing sporadic antisocial behaviour or crime.

“There are various orders and notices that run for longer periods but they require significantly more evidence and consultation and not all are police powers.

“Given the circumstances, the dispersal power was the most appropriate here.”

Police said the new style-orders had been used “frequently” in the city centre to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder.

In August, police put into place the second of two, six-month dispersal order zones in St Clements, after the first in Speedwell Street had been a success.

It was the first time Oxford had two dispersal order zones at once since they were created by the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act.

It came after police recieved 563 calls from the St Clemets area since January, 275 about antisocial behaviour.

Cowley Neighbourhood Inspector Gavin Biggs said: “We are committed to tackling antisocial behaviour in our neighbourhoods and these new powers enable us to continue doing so.

“Our plan is to continue using dispersal orders around Oxford in order to stop people from causing harassment or distress in the city.”

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