Police get tough on hot spots

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NEIGHBOURHOODS affected by anti-social behaviour are welcoming the introduction of new powers designed to discourage groups from gathering and causing a nuisance.

Following joint action by Greater Manchester Police, Wigan Council and Wigan and Leigh Housing, new Section 30 Dispersal Zones are being rolled out in hot spots across the borough in response to a spate of public order offences.

The latest Section 30s will target anti-social behaviour in communities in Westleigh, Beech Hill, Scholes and Higher Folds in Leigh.

Residents and shop owners in Higher Folds reported feeling intimidated by groups congregating around the precinct, whilst residents on the Trees estate in Westleigh had complained of incidents of criminal damage and the targeting of vulnerable people by groups of youths.

On Beech Hill estate, a six-week order is being introduced in a bid to tackle a recent spike in incidents; whilst the existing Section 30 on Scholes precinct has proven to be so effective in combating ASB that partners are now extending the zone to include the Platt Lane estate which has experienced more than a hundred incidents of ASB in the past twelve months.

The Section 30 gives additional powers to police officers and PCSOs which enables them to tell people to leave the area either immediately or by a deadline; they can also tell people who don’t live in the area to leave and not to return for up to 24 hours.

These latest Dispersal Zones are part of an ongoing boroughwide strategy aimed at dealing robustly with the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour and criminal disorder.

In other areas of the borough where a Section 30 has been introduced, including areas around Beech Hill, Standish and Norley Hall, there have been significant reductions in reported incidents of ASB from local residents, and partners are currently carrying out a comprehensive survey to assess the full impact of the measures.

To remain or return to the area having been told to leave may be an offence under Section 30(4) of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, punishable by 3 months imprisonment and/or a fine up to £2,500.

The Dispersal Zone in Scholes covers an area which includes Caunce Road, Platt Lane, Scholes and Vauxhall Road. The Dispersal Zone in Beech Hill covers an area which includes Beech Grove, Bluebell Avenue and Forest Avenue. To report non-emergency incidents or to report a crime call 0161 872 5050. Only call 999 in an emergency where there is a threat to life or a crime in progress. To report incidents of anti-social behaviour in the area, contact Wigan Council’s ASB helpline: 01942 404364.