More than 20 children and teenagers, some as young as 12, have been spoken to by Kent Police due to anti-social behaviour in Margate town centre.
A dispersal order was put in place during the afternoon of February 15 following reports that groups of young people were congregating, drinking alcohol, making threats of violence and causing criminal damage.
There have been numerous complaints of youngsters involved in antisocial incidents during recent weeks.
The order lasted 48 hours and covered the town centre including King Street, Addington Street, Churchfields and High Street.
A second dispersal order was later authorised to cover the same area up until the afternoon of Monday, 19 February.
A designated dispersal area gives extra powers to officers under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to tackle those carrying out nuisance behaviour and order them to leave the area. If they return to the area within a specified time, they can be arrested.
Patrols were carried out by PCSOs and officers while businesses were spoken to regarding any concerns.
At 8.45pm on Thursday 15 February, patrolling officers found a group of people causing an affray in Hall By The Sea Road. Seven people aged between 13 and 15 years old were stopped before being sent home, and their parents and schools were informed.
During the order, 14 people were formally asked to leave the area by officers including:
- an 18-year-old man who was dispersed from College Walk for being abusive to members of the public.
- a 12-year-old boy from Margate, a 13-year-old boy from Ramsgate and a 13-year-old boy from Margate all had their bicycles seized for riding recklessly in College Walk.
Following the dispersals, two people were then arrested on Saturday 17 February on suspicion of failing to comply with the order – a 15-year-old boy from Margate and a 13-year-old girl from Broadstairs. They were both released pending further enquiries.
The 15-year-old boy was arrested again on suspicion of possessing a bladed article on 20 February, in connection with a report of an altercation in College Walk on 12 February. He currently remains in police custody.
‘Affecting the community’
Inspector Lara Connor of Thanet Community Safety Unit said: “Anti-social behaviour can really affect a community. Groups of people who cause damage, noise or threatening behaviour can be intimidating to others who live and work in the area and it can make life miserable.
“During the school holiday, issues were reported to us so our officers carried out patrols to check no further disorder took place.
“We have spoken to those believed to be involved and taken their details.
“Almost all of those people dispersed were under the age of 18 so the consequences of their behaviour was explained to them, and also we are speaking to parents so they are aware too.
“The message is clear – anti-social behaviour is not welcome in Thanet, and we will take action against anyone found to be persistently causing problems.
‘”It’s important that residents and businesses keep reporting incidents to Kent Police when they arise as it means we can tackle it in the most efficient way.”