Teenage troublemakers will be slapped with a 9pm curfew under radical new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in a part of Wisbech.
Police say the problem of abusive youngsters in an area known as the Spinney, in Waterlees, has become so bad that they are taking action through a dispersal order.
It means police officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) will now be able to break up large groups, ban them from the area for up to 24 hours, and march under 16s home to their parents or guardians between the hours of 9pm and 6am.
The order covers an area including Waterlees Road, Ollard Avenue and Grosvenor Road and will last until January 18 next year.
Chief Inspector Mike Hills said Cambridgeshire Police was forced to act after 33 incidents of anti-social behaviour, criminal damage or violence were reported in the area in the last three months.
He said: “There have been numerous complaints and incidents of street-based anti-social behaviour caused by large groups of youths who congregate in this area, many are drinking alcohol and being generally abusive towards members of the public and shop staff.
“Staff and shoppers have been alarmed and intimidated by these youths and have been subjected to abuse, noise and litter nuisance from some groups.
“There have also been a number of incidents of criminal damage and vandalism.
“We take anti-social behaviour very seriously as it can have a detrimental effect on individuals’ lives and impact on the wider community.”
The five-month order – the first of its kind in Fenland – has been welcomed by Wisbech town councillor and Fenland district councillor Virginia Bucknor.
She said: “Waterlees residents have been subjected to appalling anti-social behaviour by a small minority of people over a sustained period.
“This dispersal order enables the police to take positive action, particularly towards those who have been coming into the area from elsewhere to target vulnerable residents.”
But Andrew Scott, on the Policing Wisbech Facebook page, said police risked alienating the youngsters.
He said: “I agree there are problems there, but I know of a lot of kids that have been questioned by police and have not been quilty of anything. If you’re seen to be moving them on, then the older community are happy, but you are driving a wedge between yourselves and the 12 to 18-year-olds.”
Tina Gamble commented: “It’s about trying to keep together as a community to stamp out anti-social behaviour so that our children, young people and adults can all go about our daily business unhindered by drunks or thugs, thus setting the example to the next generation on how community spirit and police action can transform the environment we live in.”