Anti-yob powers extended

New anti-yob police powers trialled in North Walsham over the festive period have been hailed a success and extended. Nearly 50 young troublemakers were ordered out of the town centre between December 8 and last Thursday under north Norfolk's first dispersal order.

New anti-yob police powers trialled in North Walsham over the festive period have been hailed a success and extended.

Nearly 50 young troublemakers were ordered out of the town centre between December 8 and last Thursday under north Norfolk's first dispersal order.

Insp Roger Clarke said the order had helped "cool down" situations which could have escalated into more serious offences, had given townsfolk a greater sense of security and improved their quality of life. The order, which had been due to expire on January 15, has now been extended until February 28.

But Insp Clarke said he could not go on extending the order indefinitely and called for a community debate on longer-term solutions to tackling boredom and anti-social behaviour.

A total of 47 youths aged under 18 were ordered to leave the area defined by the dispersal order and three arrests were made during the period. Most of those causing a nuisance had been in the town centre or outside Sainsbury's in the evenings or at weekends, according to Insp Clarke. Afterwards police delivered a letter to parents saying why their child had been told to go.

He said: "I am at pains to point out that I am not here to demonise kids. The vast majority are no problem at all. They just want to meet somewhere and express themselves.

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"We don't disperse people for being young within North Walsham. If they are standing about discussing whatever they discuss at that age, that isn't a problem."

But police were determined to enforce an agenda of respect and would take action against youths who broke it in ways such as shouting and swearing, kicking at fences or drinking alcohol.