Torridge District Council and Bideford police are to use special dispersal powers over the festive period to reduce risk of anti-social behaviour in the town during Christmas and New Year.
A section 30 dispersal order came into force at 06.00am on the 30th November 2012, and will provide local police officers with a legal power to disperse groups of two or more who are causing, or are likely to cause, anti-social behaviour within a designated area.
People dispersed can be ordered to leave a designated area for a period of up to 24 hours, and will be arrested if they breach the order and return to the area from where they have been dispersed.
A section 30 dispersal order has been used successfully within the town centre of Bideford for impactive periods since the inception of the anti-social behaviour act 2003, and on this occasion will cease following the Christmas and New Year period at 06.00am 6th January 2013.
Sgt Helen Holmes of the Bideford neighbourhood beat team said, "We are pleased to see in conjunction with the local council that Bideford has reaped the benefits of it's status as a safe town to live, work and socialise. This brings large numbers of people to the town centre each year, particularly during the festive period. We are keen to stress that this order is utilised to ensure the enjoyment and safety of the large majority of persons coming to the town centre, and is fully supported by the council, residents and business owners".
Councillor Andy Boyd, lead member for community safety at Torridge, said: "In previous years when the order has been used, significant decreases in offences such as criminal damage, public order and drink related anti-social behaviour have been recorded."
The operation will involve officers from the Bideford Neighbourhood Beat Team, Bideford patrol officers, members of the special constabulary and officers from The Force Support Group.
Officers work in close liaison with the town centre CCTV control room to monitor groups seen to be causing issues within the town, and the success of this partnership, helps to maintain confidence in local officers to deal with a problem minority quickly and effectively.