Police to publish locations of ‘dispersal zones’ in Northamptonshire on its website

Witnesses can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
Witnesses can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

Northamptonshire Police is to publish on its website the location and timing of new ‘direction to leave’ zones authorised under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The move is part of the force’s continued drive to be more open and transparent about the use of powers such as stop and search and dispersal powers.

Information about stop and search powers, such as what the public should expect and their rights when stopped and searched, is already published on the Northamptonshire Police website and additional information about the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 has now been added.

Sections 34 and 35 of the act allow an officer of the rank of inspector or above to authorise the dispersal of people in a specific area, during a specified period of no more than 48 hours, to prevent crime and disorder.

The authorising officer must reasonably believe that, in respect of any locality within their police area, the exercise of the dispersal powers by a constable in uniform or a PCSO may be required to remove or reduce the likelihood of crime and disorder, or behaviour likely to result in local people being harassed, alarmed or distressed.

For example, an inspector may have information to indicate there is likely to be anti-social behaviour on a particular housing estate during the weekend and authorise the use of the dispersal for 48 hours.

The powers may also be used in a busy town centres where there is a history of alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and disorder, enabling an officer to direct someone to leave the area for a specified period, thereby helping to reduce the risk of further crime or disorder in the area.

Superintendent Andy Cox said: “The Crime and Policing Act 2014 has given the police a valuable tool with which to tackle anti-social behaviour. Northamptonshire Police is seeking to be open and transparent in the use of the ‘Direction to Leave’ and, as such, we are publishing the reason and duration of the authorities, including the details of the authorising officer.

“I believe we are the first force in the country to offer this level of transparency and I welcome the public scrutiny this will bring. It is important the police use any power in a proportionate way with integrity and consideration.”

For more information about the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and the areas of the county where the authority has been used so far in 2015, visit the stop and search pages at www.northants.police.uk.