1 August 2013, 08:04
Police powers aimed at breaking up groups causing trouble in Southampton City Centre are being extended.
The dispersal order around Bedford Place and Londonm Road expired on 31 July but will now continue for another 6 months, until 31 January 2014.
Police say the powers to move people on have resulted in a 36% drop in anti-social behaviour in the last year. But they do admit beggars have just moved to East Park instead, so they're looking to extend the scheme to other areas.
Sergeant Martin Conlan said:
"We are looking to renew the Sect 30 and perhaps extend it to other areas of the city centre. It has been very effective at moving the street-homeless out of the carparks at Grosvenor Square and Bedford Place - but rather displaced the problem to East Park. We are looking at including the parks in the Sect 30 but eventually these people have to settle somewhere.
"We are of course working closely with partner agencies including the city council to find a more long-term solution to the issue. The Borders Agency have been supportive in identifying foreign nationals suitable for repatriation and this stand at 30+ over the past couple of years.
"A recent data-set up to 31st May 2013 showed a 36.29% reduction (over same period last year) in recorded ASB in Southampton West (City Centre, Waterfront and Polygon) and I have no doubt the robust intervention of dispersal and alcohol confiscation in the Sect 30 area has had a big effect on these figures.
"There is still an issue of begging - greatly exacerbated by the willingness of the general public to handover hard earned cash to beggars - often NOT even homeless. When a young female can earn £260 in one day (including a £20 from one well-wisher) it will always be difficult to erradicate the problem or encourage them to take up employment including selling the Big Issue."