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Dispersal powers

These are intended to reduce disorderly behaviour in public places.

What are dispersal powers?

Dispersal powers can be used in public places by a police officer in uniform, to disperse people behaving in an anti-social way and provide immediate short-term respite to a local community. The power is preventative as it allows an officer to deal instantly with behaviour by a person or groups of people and nip the problem in the bud before it escalates.

A police inspector can authorise use of the power in a specified locality for a period of up to 48 hours. There is no longer a requirement for the pre-designation of a "dispersal zone" so it can be used in any locality immediately. There is also no longer a requirement that groups of two or more people be engaged in the anti-social behaviour.

The officer must have reasonable grounds to suspect that the behaviour of the person has contributed, or is likely to contribute, to members of the public being harassed, alarmed or distressed or crime and disorder occurring in the locality. The officer must also believe that giving a direction to the person is necessary for the purpose of removing or reducing the likelihood of anti-social behaviour, crime or disorder.

Can young people be dispersed?

A police officer can give a direction to anyone who is, or appears to be, over the age of 10. If the officer reasonably believes the person given the direction to be under the age of 16, the officer can take them home or to another place of safety.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 31 Aug 2017 at 14:26