Dispersal order

Repression and resistance?

Title: Dispersal order in Forest Fields
Author: Nottingham Indymedia + Leslie Russell
Image: nottingham.indymedia.org/system/photo/2...
Tags: repression dispersal_order police anti-social_behaviour
Location: nottingham forest_fields

A dispersal order will be in place in Forest Fields from Saturday 16th April until 5th Oct 2011. There has been concern from some local residents about what the implications of this will be. A public meeting was held at the Sumac on 24th April and information about the dispersal orders on lamposts has been gratified, presumably by local kids.

On the newswire: Dispersal orders: Information for resistance | Forest Fields Dispersal Order in force | Dispersal Order in Forest Fields

The law

The police powers to impose a dispersal order are contained within Sections 30-36 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003). A Police Superintendent or higher ranking officer may make a written Authority if s/he has “reasonable grounds for believing that members of the public have been intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distressed in public places in a specific area (referred to as the Relevant Locality) and that anti-social behaviour is significant and a persistent problem in that area”. The consent of the Local Authority (Nottingham City Council, in this case) must be obtained. Dispersal orders can be made for a maximum of 6 months although they can be renewed at the end of that period.

During the period specified a Police Constable or Police Community Support Officer may require a group of two or more people to disperse immediately or by any time specified in any manner specified, if they have “reasonable grounds for believing that the presence or behaviour of a group of two or more persons in any public place in the Relevant Locality has resulted or is likely to result in any member of the public being intimidated, harassed alarmed or distressed”. If the person does not live in the designated area they can be ordered to leave the area for up to 24 hours. Children under the age of 16 can be taken home.

Breach of a dispersal order is a criminal offence under S 32(2) of the ASBA punishable by up to 3 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

Other dispersal orders in Nottingham

A dispersal order was imposed in Radford last May ‘to move on groups hanging round and causing problems in Alfreton Road’ -  problems such as ‘drinking, committing minor damage or …swearing.’ The order was extended until 26th Nov.

In November 2008 a dispersal order was brought in in Sneinton, following ‘complaints from residents and businesses that groups are congregating in and around Sneinton’. Interestingly these groups were also described by a police officer as ‘often seen drinking, committing minor damage or heard swearing’. This seems to be Nottinghamshire Police’s operational definition of anti-social behaviour. A local resident was quoted by the Evening Post as saying ‘There are a lot more girl gangs now. They just scream and shout and cause havoc.’ The order was extended until November 2009.

There is also mention on this police page of a dispersal order covering the Wells Road/Ransom Road area which came into force on 2nd Nov 2009 for 6 months. It was re-applied for and will run until 16th May 2011. The police intend to renew the order.

In the Nottingham Post article advertising the Forest Fields dispersal order, there is mention that a dispersal order was introduced in Long Eaton town centre in March and will run for 6 months. A police sergeant described the problem as ‘groups of teenagers congregating in public areas’.