Police clampdown on town centre anti-social behaviour

Police clampdown on town centre anti-social behaviour
Fiveways in Tunbridge Wells

The order, commonly used in larger towns and cities where there is traditionally higher levels of anti-social behaviour, was issued after a number of incidents by ‘groups of young people’ in the town.

The incidents included criminal damage, abusive language and dangerous cycling in retail areas.

The 48-hour order was put in place across the town centre from 4pm last Friday [January 17] and was lifted at 4pm on Sunday January 19.

The move by Kent Police meant that any group of two or more people ‘found causing, or likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress’ could be dispersed by a uniformed police officer.

Youths under 16 were also subject to a curfew over the weekend, as anybody not accompanied by an adult between 9pm and 6am, could be taken back to their home if officers deemed it appropriate.

Inspector David Higham of Tunbridge Wells Community Safety Unit – a partnership of local organisations and Kent Police – said: “While we want young people to come to the town centre to meet friends and socialise, they must do so in a way that is responsible and considerate to others.

“Unfortunately some people are choosing to behave in a manner that is a nuisance to visitors, businesses and residents.  

“Our officers will regularly be patrolling the area covered by the order and will intervene where anyone is found to be misbehaving.

“Failure to comply with an instruction given by an officer could also lead to an arrest being made.”

A spokesman for Kent Police added that dispersal orders, which are used more frequently in places such as Maidstone and Thanet, were the preferred choice of the force to ‘nip anti-social behaviour in the bud’.

He also said that the order could be reintroduced if similar anti-social behaviour reoccurred in the future.

This is not the first time a dispersal order has been issued in Tunbridge Wells. The first time Kent Police used the legislation, which was introduced in Tony Blair’s Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, was also in the borough, when a dispersal order was issued after complaints of ‘juvenile nuisance’ in Pembury back in 2004.

The Council has had the power to issue Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) in Tunbridge Wells since their use was approved by Full Council in April 2018.

PSPOs can result in a fine for anti-social behaviour associated with rough sleeping, begging, public drinking of alcohol, and noise that causes an ‘unreasonable disturbance’. But to date the Council has not issued a PSPO.


Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter