New police powers will be used on a Lancaster estate following a big increase in anti-social behaviour.
The powers will enable police to “disperse” groups of two or more people away from Ridge Square on the Ridge Estate if they are behaving in an anti-social manner causing alarm, harassment or distress to others.
The measures, which are currently under consultation but which are expected to be brought in soon, are the result of a “significant increase” in complaints from residents over the last year.
But Nik Marsdin, from the YMCA, which runs the Ridge Community Centre, in Ridge Square, said the measure were a result of massive funding cuts.
He said: “The community centre received about £65,000 in funding but 18 months ago that was cut to £30,000.
“As a result the centre is now only open three afternoons and evenings a week, and the spikes in problems are mostly recorded when the centre is shut. It is a prime example of budget cuts coming home to roost.”
Police say that although they have tried using different tactics to achieve results, problems still persist which are affecting the area and its residents. Some residents have said that it has put them off going out at night.
Police are due to meet with young people in the next few days to talk about the options available.
The dispersal order will apply to anyone causing anti-social behaviour, not just young people.
The order will also give police the power to take home anyone aged under 16 who is out on the streets in a dispersal zone between 9pm and 6am and not accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.
Police said they recognised that Ridge Square was a meeting point for young people, and would be working with local agencies and partners to find solutions and activities for young people, including a new multi-purpose youth shelter the police have recently got funding for from the Community Safety Partnership.
Inspector Nigel Parkinson of Lancaster Police said: “The residents of Ridge Square have experienced a significant increase in anti-social behaviour in the last year. Therefore, this application is being considered in order to give us time to deal with the issues that have arisen in the area, and also to give the local residents some respite from the disruptive behaviour they have experienced.
We will work in partnership with other agencies to find solutions to these issues.”