Powers are first for the district

PC Taylor displaying the dispersal order in Ridge Square
PC Taylor displaying the dispersal order in Ridge Square

Children as young as six will be subject to “dispersal orders” on a Lancaster estate following a rise in anti-social behaviour.

It is the first time the powers – which allow police to move groups of troublemakers away from a designated area – have been used in Lancaster and Morecambe.

Ridge Square on the Ridge Estate will be subject to the six month order, which came into place last week, following a significant rise in complaints from residents, many of whom feel too scared to visit the shops at night.

PC Rachael Taylor, Community Beat Manager for Bulk Ward, said: “The complaints range from the rattling of shutters, noise nuisance and things being thrown at windows to arson and throwing stones at cars.

“It’s low level but it’s persistent.”

PC Taylor said the age range of those causing problems is between six and 19 years old.

“It’s more the perception of a large group of children, rather than any direct threats to individuals,” she said.

“There can be anything between 10 and 40 kids some nights, and there are a lot of children coming from other areas as well.

“We’ve been working with the local school, and have made visits to some individual parents. What I’m hoping for over the next six months is the change in the attitudes of the young people.

“They’re aware that they need to sort it out.”

Lancaster police recently received funding for a new youth shelter, and are now considering how best to spend the money, and will be consulting with residents and Lancaster City Council.

PC Taylor added that the dispersal orders did not amount to a curfew, but that children could be taken home after 9pm.

She added: “A bit of common sense applies here. We’ve had a high presence in the area recently, and we’ll be continuing to keep up that presence.

“We’ll be reviewing things in the new year, and ultimately we’re hoping that we don’t need to use these powers too much.”