Police have been called and at least one beach business has shut for the day following a report of a large group of youths causing disruption on Margate main sands.
The ‘Kiddies Corner’ rides have been closed off following a report of youngsters drinking, using laughing gas inhaled from balloons and abusing passers-by.
A Kent Police spokesperson said: “Kent Police was contacted at 11.45am following a report of nuisance youths near Marine Drive, Margate.
“Officers attended and the group had dispersed and left the area. Local officers have been made aware.” It is understood officers have since been called back to the area.
Business owners say youngsters drinking and using nitrous oxide on the beach has been an ongoing issue for the past three years.
One, who asked not to be named, said: “We are suffering with this in Margate and Broadstairs, with groups of teenagers coming in from the Medway towns.”
In Broadstairs a 48 hour dispersal order was put in place yesterday (June 16) afternoon to combat antisocial behaviour following a recent incidents including a disturbance in the town this month which required the attendance of armed officers.
Reports were made of a group of youths with knives heading into the town after getting off a train. It is reported four or five people assaulted a second group and then left the scene at the seafront end of the town’s High Street at 5.07pm on Friday (June 10)..
Officers attended and a knife was located and seized. No injuries were reported at the scene but subsequent enquiries suggest one person may have suffered a minor injury.
An investigation was undertaken and three boys, two aged 16 and one aged 15, were later arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.
The teenagers, who are all from the Sittingbourne area, were later bailed to return to a police station on Monday 4 July.
It is reported there was also a disturbance at Viking Bay last night where two men and around 10 youths were involved in an altercation.
A Kent Police spokesperson said: “Kent Police was called to disturbance involving a group of people in Harbour Street, Broadstairs at around 7.30pm. Officers attended and spoke to the individuals, however no offences were reported and the group was dispersed.”
A dispersal order gives police additional powers to move on anyone causing a nuisance and, if necessary, to arrest those who return to the area once dispersed.
In 2020 Independent Broadstairs councillor Ruth Bailey was prompted to write to MP Craig Mackinlay after clearing some 200 laughing gas canisters from Viking Bay during a beach clean. She said she has two main concerns – the harm caused to young people using the laughing gas balloons and the impact on the environment from the canisters left behind.
Legislation introduced in 2016 made it illegal to sell the gas for psychoactive purposes. But Nitrous Oxide has legal medical uses and is also sold in catering shops to produce whipped cream – making its circulation harder to control.
In December 2018, a former Chief Crown Prosecutor said the new law had failed to stop the supply and described the product as ‘death in a box’.
Canisters of the gas are dispensed into balloons for inhalation. It can cause euphoria and of makes people become giggly and can cause hallucinations.
Risks include breathing problems when a large amounts of gas is inhaled, it can also cause burns due to coldness if inhaled directly from a canister or anaemia and nerve problems due to vitamin B12 deficiency associated with heavy use.
Side effects can include headaches, dizziness and bouts of paranoia. If too much is taken a person can risk falling unconscious and/or suffocating from the lack of oxygen.