CHILDREN caught causing trouble in an area plagued by anti-social behaviour will be escorted home by police in a crackdown.
Officers say those under 16 spotted misbehaving in the Queen Street area of Portsmouth between 9pm and 6am – and not with an adult – will be removed from the streets.
They will then either be taken home or to what police say will be ‘a place of safety’. The new powers – in place until November 6 – form part of a dispersal order set up to crack down on yobs.
Sergeant Tim Lucas, from the Charles Dickens Safer Neighbourhoods Team, said: ‘If we see young people under 16 causing problems between 9pm and 6am we will take them home.
‘Historically Queen Street is a meeting place for people in Portsea. It’s the main through road to the docks – everyone walks down there.
‘Local youths gather at the shops to chat, but when they go there they also drink alcohol, they spit on the pavement, they swear, they play football in the street and leave their bikes all over the place. It causes a lot of anguish, not only to the people who live in Portsea but also the businesses.’
Police can also order groups of two or more people who they suspect are causing trouble to leave the area for up to 24 hours.
Anyone who flouts an order faces a £2,500 fine and three months in jail.
Sgt Lucas added: ‘It’s the older ones who cause the most problems. A lot of them are aged 25 to 30. Due to the amount of complaints we’ve had and the number of people that are gathering there, we are taking action. A lot of these people have lived in Portsea all their lives.
‘Because of their extensive drinking the anti-social behaviour has become worse. We are challenging that.’
It comes as the government consults on plans to axe Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and replace them with measures such as ordering young people aged under 16 to leave an area if they cause trouble – possibly unaccompanied in some circumstances.
The proposals have been criticised by children’s charity Barnardo’s which says the move could push children into dangerous situations.
But the Home Office says it would ‘empower the public’ and give authorities more powers to tackle problems.
Portsmouth police say under the Queen Street dispersal order young people will not be sent home alone.
The dispersal zone includes Queen Street from the Donns Park boundary to the west footpath of Admiralty Road, as well as Prince George Street and Curzon Howe Road.