Extra police officers will be patrolling in Margate following a number of large disturbances on the main sands yesterday (June 17).
Police were first called yesterday morning when youngsters drinking, using laughing gas inhaled from balloons and abusing passers-by were reported. The disruption forced the closure of beach business Kiddies Corner for the day.
Officers and paramedics were then called back in the afternoon after more disturbances and three men were arrested – a 62-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, a 46-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and a 38-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure.
During the evening disturbance a number of people were also seen jumping on one of the police cars parked on the seafront.
A dispersal order was put in place for the area at 4pm yesterday.
A Kent Police spokesperson said: “Kent Police responded to a number of disturbances on Margate Main Sands on the afternoon of Friday 18 June.
“To prevent further disorder and anti-social behaviour, a 48-hour dispersal order was imposed on the Main Sands and in the surrounding area from 4pm.
The 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.
“During their response to incidents in the area, a 62-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, a 46-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly, and a 38-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure.
“Extra officers will be carrying out patrols in the area over the weekend.”
As well as residents and visitors having to endure the antisocial behaviour, a tide of rubbish was also left behind.
Volunteers from Rise Up Clean Up spent three hours clearing the debris. Seventeen volunteers collected 80 bags of rubbish but say the beach was so disgusting that when they left at 9pm “it still looked like the end of a festival.”
The group say bins were not emptied after 5pm and so much rubbish had mounted up that it was blocking exits from the beach.
Two Thanet council staff -and the tractor- have been attempting to clear the beach this morning.
Kiddies Corner boss Adam Pegden and staff member Tommy Penn have also been clearing away rubbish, laughing gas canisters and broken bottles. The Bay Inspector has also pitched in.
Adam said: “The behaviour from the teenagers coming into the town was unacceptable. This is a family resort, we welcome all, but antisocial behaviour including fights, drug use, underage drinking and gas canister use really isn’t welcome.
“There were many families on the beach yesterday, If I had been visiting and seen how the beach was, I certainly wouldn’t comeback. It was very sad to see.
“Kent Police did a great job, but unfortunately there were so many people misbehaving it just was not manageable.”
Many other residents have also cleared up numerous nitrous oxide canisters discarded yesterday.
In Broadstairs a 48 hour dispersal order was put in place Thursday (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.
However, there were reported disturbances Thursday evening and Friday
There are now calls for co-ordinated action from Thanet council, Kent Police and British Transport Police.
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.