A Dispersal Order has been placed on some of the streets in my Ipswich ward. A group of teenagers have been hanging around creating nuisance and anti-social behaviour. This was going on every night with groups of up to 40 people. I am pleased the order has come into force because clearly the situation was intolerable for local people and the police needed to be granted the powers necessary to gain control. The police certainly give the area a higher priority now, and there is a rapid response to any incidents. The Order gives police the power to move anybody out of the dispersal area or to a place of safety, such as their parents' house. Under normal circumstances, the police can only move on or arrest people who are committing an offence, so the order gives the police the teeth to deal with potential trouble before it becomes actual trouble.
Law abiding citizens have nothing to be worried about. We must also remember that the majority of teenagers are not troublemakers.
The dispersal order is for six months and in that time the community, schools, police and council need to take stock of the situation and make sure that it cannot happen again. The Labour Government has provided Ipswich with Liveability Fund money to the tune of £3.7 million over 2 years to spend on projects related to cleaner and safer Ipswich. I am pleased that the council's "Making A Difference" team will be in St Johns ward in April & May. Hopefully they can make an impact on the cleaner and safer agenda. They will definitely need a chewing gum removal machine in their toolkit!
The key lesson I have learned is that solid community policing is required to stop small problems becoming big problems. Ipswich police do have a plan to move to more community based policing and they need to be encouraged, and pushed if necessary, to take this plan forward.