Trial for use of night-time economy dispersal powers in Grantham

The exclusion area in Grantham.
The exclusion area in Grantham.
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Lincolnshire Police will this weekend begin a six-week test operation in Grantham, and Lincoln, using new dispersal powers.

Named Operation Stopwatch, the trial is designed to make best use of the new dispersal powers available under the newly implemented Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

Inspector Gareth Whitelock said: “This operation is focussed on proactively using the new dispersal powers during the weekend night-time economy with a view to preventing and combating alcohol related anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder.

“In a nutshell – the new dispersal powers allow an Inspector or above to authorise a ‘dispersal notice’ for a specific area for up to 48 hours where there is evidence that there may be a likelihood of ASB or disorder that could cause harassment, alarm and distress to persons. Once a dispersal notice is in place an officer in uniform can issue a ‘direction to leave’ (a written direction) to a person who is causing (or likely to cause) harassment, alarm, distress or is acting in a disorderly manner. This then requires them to leave the specified area for the duration of the notice period (or less if the issuing officer states so). If a person breaches this direction it is a criminal offence and they can be arrested.

“The operation is targeted at dealing with alcohol related ASB, crime and disorder related to the ‘night time economy’ in the busy town centres - the trial uses Lincoln and Grantham, which tend to be busy with pubs/clubs/bars open and the evidence suggests that these periods can result in more incidents of disorder and ASB.

“It is particularly important to embed good working practices in relation to this new legislation, as the commonly used direction to leave derived from Section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 has now been repealed.

“The operation involves a six-weekend trial period running between Friday 14th November and Sunday 21st December 2014. For each weekend a pre-authorised dispersal notice will be in place for the town centres of Lincoln and Grantham.

“At the end of the trial period an analysis of the impact that the operation has had on reducing alcohol related anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder will take place and will help inform how we go forward.

“We welcome people enjoying a night out, however would like to remind everyone that they have a responsibility to act in a manner that does not cause unnecessary harassment, alarm or distress to others.”

The dispersal notices are pre-authorised for Grantham town and Lincoln city centres for the six-weekend periods (6pm on Friday to 6am on Sunday).

**What do you think? Will this make Grantham a more pleasant place to be during weekend evenings? Email: comment@granthamjournal.co.uk