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Dispersal Zone to counter new gang of youths – starts Monday 17th May

May 15, 2010

Map showing the dispersal zone boundaries

Caledonian and Barnsbury ward Councillors have backed the Council plan to quickly establish a dispersal zone in the centre of our neighbourhood. Over the past two months a growing problem has emerged from up to 40 youths whose intimidating behaviour has become totally unacceptable.

This new gang appears to consist mainly of young people from outside the area. At times their behaviour has become very intimidating. Typical behaviour involves screaming, shouting, throwing objects and blocking vehicles and pedestrians on Caledonian Road.

The zone – which will remain in force for at least 3 months – extends across a large part of Caledonian and Barnsbury Wards. The police have special powers under Section 30(4) of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 to:

  • Instruct people in a group to disperse;
  • Order anyone who does not live in the area to leave – and not to return within 24 hours;
  • Impose a 9pm-6am curfew on under-16s who are not under supervision of an adult;

Failure to comply can be punishable by 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

The gang has been congregating in Edward Square and around the parade of shops alongside the Carnegie Street bus stop. Increasing numbers of incidents have been reported in recent weeks:

  • A large group attempted to buy knives from a local hardware shop and become abusive and aggressive when the shopkeeper refused;
  • Police were called to a fight outside the 24hr supermarket at 183 Caledonian Road
  • An incident at 183 Caledonian Road when youths threw bottles inside the shop.
  • Local police and the Council’s parks security have encountered a large number of youths in and around Edward Square.
  • Residents have been subject to abuse and threatened with assault.

It is believed these youths are associated with a group who became involved in a running fight in Easter week of 2009 which resulted in three stabbings outside the Texaco garage on Caledonian Road. One of the injured youths received a near fatal wounding in that incident.

Cllr Paul Convery comments “For several months, we have been warning the police about this emerging gang and the threat they pose to public safety in the area. There is rising tension in the neighbourhood. Unless this group is broken up and brought under control there is a high risk of very serious trouble.

“The dispersal zone is not the only weapon against this gang. The neighbourhood requires a comprehensive response from the police and other authorities. I am assured that the police and Council have begun to identify many of the perpetrators and ring-leaders. We need firm action against these dangerous and out-of-control youths.

“I remain worried that the youth work presence in our area may be too far-stretched to respond to this new problem. Councillors also want to be assured that the dispersal zone will not result in the problems being displaced into places like Bingfield Park and Thornhill Square.”

Text of the public notice issued is here

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