Criticism after limited use of police dispersal powers in Grantham

The exclusion area in Grantham.
The exclusion area in Grantham.

There has been criticism of the police operation which saw Grantham town centre become an exclusion zone from which troublemakers could be ordered to leave.

Making use of new dispersal powers, police began Operation Stopwatch, a trial over six-weekends between November 14 and December 21, during which officers could order anyone causing or likely to cause harassment, distress, or disorder to leave a pre-authorised exclusion zone.

Smashed front window of Rumours.

Smashed front window of Rumours.

Only four dispersal orders were given across both zones in Grantham and Lincoln, and its effectiveness has been questioned by Dean Ward of Rumours bar who described it as ‘rubbish’ and highlighted that on December 20, a night when the dispersal notice was active, the front window of the premises was smashed.

Mr Ward said: “A youth was arrested but there’s still no news from police on the outcome. These youths are on the Market Cross every Friday and and Saturday night p***ed out of their heads and the police leave them to it.”

However Lincolnshire Police Inspector Whitelock said: “The take-up for this test operation has generally been positive. The use of the new dispersal powers has been limited both because it has been reasonably quiet and also because in some cases the criteria has not been met that would necessitate the powers being used.

“Of the four dispersal orders that were issued they were all taken notice of and were not breached in any way, nor were there any arrests.

“What this test operation has highlighted for the future is that these new powers can have a positive effect when used individually. Because they can be authorised by an Inspector at any time on a case-by-case basis there is no need for a blanket order, meaning we can target areas and individuals who may be causing problems at the time and effectively put a stop to any anti-social behaviour that might be taking place.”