REPORTS of anti-social behaviour in an area plagued by troublemakers have plummeted following a crackdown.
Police have been praised for their work to tackle gangs of problem youths in the Stamshaw area of Portsmouth.
New powers mean officers can now order groups of two or more people to move on from Widley Road and Jervis Road in the city if they think they are going to cause trouble.
Reports of youths causing problems in the area have nosedived since the Safer Portsmouth Partnership – made up of organisations including the emergency services and city council – introduced a six-month dispersal order a month ago.
Ragu Dinesh, 28, works at Widley Food and Wine in Widley Road, Stamshaw.
He said: ‘There was more trouble before – it’s reduced by more than 75 per cent now.
‘They were throwing balls at the windows, sometimes they were hanging around outside – it was worrying for me.
‘They would stand blocking the doorway smoking and they used to play football in the doorway, it was a worry for customers. About seven or eight of them would gather outside.
‘It was a problem for more than a year.
‘We would make 10 calls a day to the police on Fridays and Saturdays, but now it’s probably two or three – sometimes it’s no calls.
‘At Christmas, which is a busy time, there was no trouble.
‘The customers say everything is fine now. Business is better and mentally we are better.
‘It’s not completely stopped but it’s a lot nicer.’
Under the order, anyone who stays in Widley Road or Jervis Road after being ordered to leave by police or police community support officers faces up to three months in prison and a £5,000 fine.
PC David Jackson, whose beat area covers Hilsea, Stamshaw and Tipner, said: ‘So far in January, we’ve had zero calls about anti-social behaviour in the area, which is a real success for us.
‘We are maintaining a strong visible presence up there, especially in the evenings – the main problems centred around Friday and Saturday evenings.
‘Now the groups that were causing the problems are coming and using the shop and moving on. It has had a real effect.
‘People seem to be able to go about their daily business without that intimidation or fear.’