Southampton police dispersal order extended

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Police powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in Southampton centre have been extended for another six months.

The Dispersal Order enabled police to deal with groups of two or more in the Bedford Place and London Road areas but was due to run out on 31 July.

Hampshire Constabulary said it was "very effective" in reducing disorder since it was implemented on 1 February.

Local bars and nightclubs welcomed the order but said anti-social behaviour was not a common issue in the area.

'Robust intervention'

The Section 30 Dispersal Order gave officers new powers including instructing people to "immediately leave an area".

Sgt Martin Conlan, from the City Centre Unit, said the order was particularly effective around the car parks, which include Southampton City Council-owned Grosvenor Square, Bedford Place, Eastgate Street, West Park Road and The Marlands.

He added there was a 36% reduction in recorded anti-social behaviour in the area from January to May 2013 compared to the same period last year.

"I have no doubt the robust intervention of dispersal and alcohol confiscation has had a big effect on these figures," he said.

Louis Lawrence, director of the nightclub Junk in London Road, said the last six months had been "smoother" and welcomed the police initiative.

But he added the nightclub only experienced "bits of anti-social behaviour every now and then".

Rob Wedge, general manager of Orange Rooms in Vernon Walk, said in the "nicely-run area" there were occasional issues of noise but not violence.

The Dispersal Order will run until the end of January.

Sgt Conlan said police and Southampton City Council were also looking to find "long-term solutions" to the issues around homelessness and begging in the area.

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