TWO teenage tearaways who terrorised shoppers and store staff have become the youngest people ever to be banned from shopping areas in Portsmouth.
The 14-year-old and 15-year-old girl – who cannot be named for legal reasons – have been handed notices ordering them to stay out of 115 shops signed up to Portsmouth Business Crime Reduction Partnership for a year.
These include stores in Gunwharf Quays, Commercial Road, Cosham High Street, the Cascades shopping centre and nearby NCP car park and Tesco in Crasswell Street.
Police are using a little-used law under section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. It means they can deliver a short, sharp shock and arrest either teenager if they are caught flouting the order – without having to apply for a ban through the courts.
Officers from Portsmouth’s city centre unit joined forces with Portsmouth Business Crime Reduction Partnership to take the drastic step after the pair repeatedly terrorised shoppers and staff.
The girls are ringleaders of a gang of young people who have caused trouble in the city centre.
Police say they have spat at staff, hurled verbal abuse, racially abused a shop worker and one of them has even kicked a police officer.
Some staff have been left frightened to go to work for fear of being abused. They now hope the banning orders will give shoppers and staff some respite.
Sergeant Rob Sutton, who hand-delivered the banning notices, said: ‘These teenagers have been a complete and utter public disgrace towards who that work in the city centre.
‘Because they are young people we have found it difficult to do anything with them, but why should people put up with verbal abuse, being spat at, being racially abused and assaulted? They shouldn’t, and so we have had to resort to this action because these girls simply won’t behave themselves.’
He added: ‘Let this be a warning to others who think they can walk around the city centre causing a public disgrace – we will stop you, you will get banned from the area, and when your family and friends can continue to enjoy the centre, you won’t.’
Rhoda Joseph, Cascades shopping centre manager and Portsmouth Business Crime Reduction Partnership chairwoman, said: ‘We have a long history of trying to engage with them and asking them to behave appropriately and they have chosen to ignore us – they have chosen to taunt us.
‘There came a point where their behaviour became very disruptive. They became very abusive and threatening. We took the decision to exclude them because of this.’
Police to use trespass law if girls cause trouble
Police are using powers under section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to enforce the banning orders.
If either of the teenagers is caught entering Portsmouth’s Cascades shopping centre and associated NCP car park while the bans are in force they could be arrested on the grounds that they are alleged to be committing aggravated trespass.
The ban extends to every business that has signed up to Portsmouth Business Crime Reduction Partnership.
This includes stores at Gunwharf Quays, Commercial Road and some in Cosham High Street.
It means that if a police officer in uniform present has cause to reasonably believe that either teenager is committing, has committed or intends to commit the offence of aggravated trespass on land in the open air, he or she can arrest them without a warrant under the Act.
The teenagers can also be arrested if they are caught re-entering any area they are banned from within the next three months.
The ban will remain in place for 12 months.