TEENAGERS who loiter in a town centre could be fined up to £2,500 or jailed for up to three months.
Police have brought in a dispersal order to the Greywell and Park Parade areas of Leigh Park after months of anti-social behaviour from youngsters.
Traders said they felt threatened and were fed up by the noise and litter caused by the group of up 25 youngsters who would hang around the area at night.
Residents living above the shops and the Leigh Park Traders Association complained and the order was brought in last month.
It means if police suspect people in groups of two or more of causing harassment, intimidation, alarm or distress they can tell them to leave and not return within 24 hours.
If they do come back they are liable for the fine or prison.
Between 9pm and 6am, people under the age of 16 not with parents or guardians can be taken home or to a place of safety.
One shopkeeper, who asked not to be named, said: ‘The police acted quickly which we’re pleased about.
‘In the darker winter months it was a nightmare. They hung around in a big group, fighting amongst themselves, being really loud. Trying to walk past or through them was very intimidating.
‘They were dropping litter from the takeaways and it was a mess. Once I saw one of the older boys practice his boxing technique on one of the younger boys – repeatedly punching him in the chest so he crashed against the shutter of a shop. The police were called and the boy walked off crying. It wasn’t nice at all.’
The dispersal order lasts until September 7. It gives powers to police, PCSOs and Hampshire County Council’s Accredited Community Safety Officers under Section 30 of the Anti Social Behaviour Act.
Battins and West Leigh Safer Neighbourhoods team, Sergeant Simon Martin, said that in addition to the Section 30 powers, police in Leigh Park will continue their targeted patrols.
He said: ‘Anti-social behaviour on the Greywell is an issue that residents and businesses tell us is continuing to affect their quality of life, livelihoods and fear of crime. We appreciate this information so the police can focus our actions on tackling these problems effectively and help ensure people feel safe.
‘We are also grateful for the support of Havant Borough Council and local businesses, which have key roles in our combined community effort to keep crime levels low.’
Sgt Martin added they will support community events to foster mutual respect and understanding among different ages in the neighbourhood.
To report anti-social behaviour call police on 101. In an emergency, dial 999.