Town centre dispersal orders are extended

TEMPORARY measures designed to help crack down on public disorder and anti-social behaviour in Wigan town centre are to be extended to the end of January.

As of Christmas Day, a Section 30 Dispersal Zone was put in place in a drive to make the centre safer.

As part of these measures, police officers and PCSOs are able to tell groups 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.

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 three months imprisonment and/or a fine up to £2,500.

But now the authorities have revealed that the zone is going to be kept operational until well after the festive season concludes.

Insp Glenn Jones of the Wigan Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “The Section 30 in the town centre is part of a wider strategy aimed at dealing with the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage.

“It gives police officers and PCSOs greater powers when dealing with groups congregating in public places and causing a nuisance.

“The police will not necessarily disperse groups in this area just for being in a group and we recognise that not all groups are causing a nuisance. This is not an exclusion zone or curfew area but it is designed to make the area a more pleasant, safer place for everyone.

“We anticipate this order will prove as effective as those already in place in other parts of the borough in dealing with potential disorder that may affect the public enjoyment of Wigan town centre.”

Details in regards to the Dispersal Zone, which ends at 11.59pm on January 31 will be posted in locations where the zones begin, together with guidance about what it means to members of the public.

The Section 30 is running in parallel with Operation Milder, a major crime prevention campaign recently launched by police, council and town centre retailers which aims to tackle the expected rise in shop-lifting, pick-pocketing and opportunist car crime.

Another joint crime prevention measure planned for the festive period was Operation Dominator, which targeted potential trouble-makers on Boxing Day during the annual fancy dress celebration.

Coun Kevin Anderson, cabinet champion for safer communities, said: “Wigan is a safe place to live, thanks in no small part to the way agencies work together.

“This measure provides reassurance to people who may feel intimidated by large or rowdy groups and sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate harassment in any form.”