Group dispersal zone comes into force in Westminster
By londononline | Tuesday, February 12, 2013, 17:26
The drug dealing and drinking on the streets that has plagued Soho and the West End has been targeted by a new initiave by Westminster City and Camden councils and the Metropolitan Police. A group dispersal zone has been drawn up around London's clubland and surrounding areas. Police and community support officers now have the right to ban individuals or groups from the area for up to 24 hours. Two or more people can be stopped from congregating or they can be ordered out of the area if it is believed they are causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. The measures are being introduced to protect those who live, work or go out in the West End. The zone came into force at midnight on Friday 8th February and will operate for six months.
Westminster Councillor Nickie Aiken, Cabinet holder for community protection, said: "Under our zero tolerance approach to crime we will use every power at our disposal to help the police.
"We want drug dealers and the like to know that as a local authority we will do everything in our power to make this a no go zone.
"We want people to know if you come here to cause trouble you will not be welcome."
Westminster council's Neighbourhood Crime Reduction Service said of the cross-border crime and disorder problems, that: "These areas attract the same problems, if not the same people and we see the same sort of crimes.
"That is why we are working closely with our counterparts in Camden to tackle them."
Inspector Ian Hicks of Westminster police has worked closely with the council's Neighbourhood Crime Reduction Service and his local Safer Neighbourhood officers to bring about this group dispersal zone.
He said: "We want residents, businesses and visitors to the West End to see in action our utmost commitment to making the West End a truly safe and enjoyable place by arresting criminals or removing them."
Chief Inspector Kevin Hobson, responsible for neighbourhood policing and business partnership in the West End and Soho, added: "We are extremely fortunate to have such positive support and the goodwill of the business community here in the West End and Soho.
"Our extensive business community network helps us every day to help identify those whose sole purpose is exacting misery and harm to innocent people.
"My message to those who think they can come into the heart of the capital and get away with it is that we will exact misery and fear on you.
"We will arrest you whenever we can and seek a custodial sentence. With this group exclusion zone at the very least you will be removed from the West End."