Dispersal order in place at Ramsgate town trouble spot

Ramsgate town Photo Brian Whitehead

Thanet Community Safety Unit and the Problem Solving Task Force are in Ramsgate town centre this weekend, targeting those causing anti-social behaviour.

A 48-hour dispersal order is in place giving officers extra powers to disperse those causing a nuisance.

The order runs from 6pm last night (November 20) to 17.59pm on Sunday (November 22) and allows officers to move on anyone they believe to be causing a nuisance.

It is in response to a number of reports of the misuse of alcohol, drug taking and criminal damage in the town between Friday 13 and Tuesday 17 November.

The order is operational within the boundaries of Addington Street in the south, Queen Street, King Street and Hereson Road in the west, and Seven Stones Drive in the north.

Officers are regularly patrolling the area and anyone affected by nuisance behaviour is encouraged to make a report via the Kent Police website or by calling 101.

PC David Reynaert, from Thanet Community Policing Unit, said: “Kent Police is well aware of the impact anti-social behaviour can have on residents and we will take action wherever concerns are raised.

“This dispersal order is one of a number of tools open to us and we will continue to work with partner agencies to ensure Ramsgate remains a pleasant place to live and work.”

The order also follows numerous complaints from residents and traders about fighting, drug taking, shouting and intimidation of passers-by.

Earlier this week The Isle of Thanet news revealed how one resident says they were ‘grateful’ when the second national Covid lockdown was announced because of the constant trouble.

The woman, who does not want to be named for fear of reprisals, says the issues are caused by a large group of ‘feral’ youths aged 12 to 17 who continually gather in the Queen Street and York Street areas, as well as the multi-storey car park.

Issues with anti-social behaviour and crime from youth ‘gangs’ in the town has been a historic problem dating back at least six years with the youngsters changing but the problems remaining constant.

In 2017, 48 hour dispersal orders, patrols targeting ‘hot spots’ and  making passwords necessary to access free wi-fi were put in place to target the antisocial behaviour.

Residents and businesses in the town and seafront had logged hundreds of complaints over vandalism, threats intimidation, drug dealing and nuisance behaviour during an 18 month period.

Regular meetings were arranged by county councillor Karen Constantine between business owners and police to try and combat the problem. But the meetings had to be repeated in 2018 with a fresh outbreak of incidents.

At the time Cllr Constantine said police resources were overstretched and more youth facilities could be part of the solution. Requests for CCTV coverage were also made.

In July 2018 Public Space Protection Orders were enacted for Central Harbour and Margate Central wards. PSPOs prohibit congregating as part of a group of 2 or more for such duration as specified, when directed not to do so by an authorised officer; on the basis that the behaviour is causing or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to others in the locality.

They also prohibit misusing any public space which is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to others and includes a ban on foul or abusive language that it is likely to cause distress and urinating, defecating or spitting in any public place.

In February of this year stop and searches, knife sweeps and the knock-on effects of a dispersal order brought calm to trouble hotspots in Ramsgate town centre.

Increased police visibility followed an attack on a 27-year-old man in Queen Street by a gang of teenagers on January 24.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Bidmead, from Kent Police, said three teenagers, over the age of 16, have been issued with Community Protection Notices and another is the subject of an Acceptable Behaviour Agreement.