Young children involved at trouble hotspot
CHILDREN as young as four are being targeted by a police in a bid to stop gangs of youths making life a misery for shoppers and residents.
Cambridgeshire police are implementing a dispersal order at a trouble hotspot outside Virans, a family-run store in Paynells, Orton Goldhay.
The order means police can order groups of two or more youths to leave the area if they are behaving anti-socially.
The tough stance by police was sparked after alarming figures revealed that in May there were 44 incidents of anti-social behaviour outside the shop.
Of those, 33 incidents involved youths and problems ranged from kicking footballs repeatedly against walls to hurling abusive language at shoppers entering the store.
Manager of Virans, Naga Odedra, said gangs of up to 12 youths had been intimidating shoppers at the store for a number of years.
He said the problem is worse after school.
He said: “Children aged from four to 16 gather outside the shop after school closes to when we close.
“It is quite scary for some shoppers, especially elderly people, who are worried that their shopping or hand bags might be stolen.
“There can be up to 12 youths in the gang and they often pester people to buy them cigarettes or alcohol.”
He welcomed the dispersal order, adding: “I think this will make things a lot better for shoppers here.”
Lilian Taylor (88) lives in the area, said: “There are groups that gather outside the shop at night. I try and go during the day if I need to. It is good that the police are doing something here. They can be quite intimidating.”
Another resident, who did not want to be named, added: “They are generally noisy and rowdy, like normal young people are. I have heard there have been problems in the past, and it can be very intimidating.”
The order comes into effect at midnight on Saturday and covers the outside of the store and the car park opposite.
It grants police the power to order gangs of two or more to leave the area if they are behaving in an antisocial manner.
If the individuals refuse to leave, or return within 24 hours, after being ordered to leave by an officer, they could be arrested and, if prosecuted, face up to a maximum of three months in jail or a fine.
The dispersal order will last for three months.
Neighbourhood policing sergeant Simon Goldsmith said the figures proved there was a need for “hard and fast” policing.
He said: “The area is known for being a trouble hotspot locally and it has been a concern for some time.
“The 44 incidents we saw are very similar to the number of incidents we have seen in the past in the area.
“While not all of the incidents have been serious, it is important that we tackle this.
“We will be carrying out patrols in the area as well.”
The order is the second to be put into force in Peterborough. At the start of May, a six month order came into effect around a row of shops on Central Avenue, between its junctions with Chestnut Avenue and Sycamore Avenue.
Safer Peterborough Partnership Manager, Christine Graham, said the orders gave a short, sharp impact on problem areas.
She added that police would be looking at the roots of the anti-social behaviour problems carefully.
“A problem of people engaging in an anti-social behaviour has been identified and needs looking at, as the summer holidays are approaching.”
Ward councillor Janet Goodwin said she was delighted that something was being done.
Cllr Goodwin added: “This must be good news for people wanting to shop in the area.”
CLAMPDOWN: Police Community Support Officers Josh Coe, left, and Matt Lauch andh Sgt Simon Goldsmith with the notice of the new Dispersal Order at Virans convenience store in Paynells. (METP-23-06-10PF013)