Don’t Fight the Dispersal Order in Forest Fields

On the Indymedia website there is information about a local fight against a Dispersal Order in Forest Fields.

“A dispersal order will be in place in Forest Fields from Saturday 16th April until 5th Oct 2011. There has been concern from some local residents about what the implications of this will be…information about the dispersal orders on lamposts has been graffitied and a poster campaign against the order has begun.”

“This will allow Police and CPO’s the power to disperse groups of 2 or more people should they have reason to believe that their behaviour has resulted or is likely to result in any member of the public being intimidated, harassed alarmed or distressed.”

I have heard a number of people fighting this order put their view point across and I think they are seriously misguided. I can understand fully the complaint one person raised that dispersal orders will affect property prices. But many of the complaints are from idealists who think that the police shouldn’t be dispersing groups of young people who are just hanging about.

As one comment on the Indymedia website says “what to do about gangs of kids that are threatening people, breaking stuff, and making a total pain of themselves.”

I have spoken to people who are victims of the behaviour that this dispersal order aims to tackle. The people I have spoken to are more vulnerable such as elderly and disabled people. It is easy for young fit people to dismiss the affect intimidation has on the lives of many vulnerable people.


9 Responses to Don’t Fight the Dispersal Order in Forest Fields

  1. Andy says:

    I disagree.

    Dispersal orders, just like pretty much all the ideas from the ‘anti-social behaviour’ agenda are grossly blunt instruments which have the effect of stigmatising or even criminalising otherwise lawful behaviour.

    There’s nothing illegal in just ‘hanging about’. I often occurs because young people have little else to do.

    If those young people start threatening or harassing people then it becomes a crime and the police should be involved. If there are frequent occurrences then more police need to patrol the area more often and arrest the perps.

    Simply rounding kids up just alienates them, turns them against the police and just shifts the problem onto someone else. It is a tacit admission that society can no longer be bothered to actually catch criminals.

    If people find young people intimidating then that is not the young people’s problem if they are not committing a crime. If they harass people then as I say, that is a crime and should be dealt with.

    Dispersal orders are thoroughly illiberal measures that don’t take any account of the rights of those subjected to them and, as such, should be seen as contravening our human rights legislation.

  2. Alan-a-dale says:

    I commented on this order at the time it was imposed – – and I stand by what I said then.

    Dispersal orders may be a short term solution (they are only ever a temporary measure) and do nothing to solve the long-term problems (or the causes) of anti-social behaviour and nuisance. What’s more, they can criminalise and alienate young people and so actually make the problems worse and much more entrenched.

    Like many things implemented by authorities like the police and local councils, these are popularist measures which give an illusion of decisive action but which do nothing to address long-term issues.

  3. nottgirl says:

    If there is a large crowd of young people hanginga bout directly outside your front door, that is intimidating.

    Remember, many houses in Forest Fields have a front door that goes directly from the street to someone’s living room. Sitting in your living room every night listening to a crowd of people talking and swearing yards away from you, is not a pleasant experience.

    I have spoken to 1 disabled women in Forest Fields who is had to put up with this nearly every night. The police can now use the dispersal order. Before they simply told her they could do nothing.

  4. Andy says:

    Well, as they say, hard cases make bad law.

    What is it about the young people that she finds intimidating? Is it the noise? Has she had reason to believe that they are up to no good or are likely to attack her? Why aren’t the police treating it as an obstruction?

    Or is it the modern scenario where we have become terrified of the young and she is just scared of what she has come to believe that young people represent, a stereotype?

    Another modern issue is that people have become convinced that they are entitled to live their lives in a hermetically sealed silence and that any sign of others, whether audible or visual represents a nuisance and must be stopped. If you live in a city you must expect others to impinge on your existence once in a while. Sometimes that may be inconvenient but that doesn’t necessarily make it criminal.

    When the police say they ‘can’t do anything’ what they usually mean is that they can’t be bothered to do anything because it involves court cases, paperwork and it’s a hassle. Measures like dispersal orders exist to make the police’s life easier and I’m not convinced that’s enough to justify trampling all over young people’s human rights for the reasons I’ve given above.

    Like I say, if they are committing crimes then that should be dealt with and the police have no excuse for not doing so. Indiscriminately herding young people away is not the answer though.

  5. Alan-a-dale says:

    Thanks Andy for saying most of the things I would have said in reply to Nottgirl’s example to justify dispersal orders.

    The plain fact is that they don’t solve the problem, they move it… and when the dispersal order comes to an end, the ‘anti-social’ elements are likely to return. What’s the point of that?

  6. lurking about randomly says:

    It’s so interesting to read the comments on the dispersal order.

    So far this summer I have witnessed older kids try and mug my 7 year old for his BMX twice and have chased kids off my property who have ripped off the guttering and were trying to smash a window. I don’t really find that acceptable so part of me is welcoming the dispersal order.

    On the other hand as a parent I feel divided. I don’t want the dispersal order to become a summertime quick fix to the social issues of the area and I wonder if it will have a future impact on my sons freedom.

  7. Andy says:

    LAR – you sum the problem up well. The problem as I see it is that residents are being sold an easy solution to a complex problem. Such ‘solutions’ rarely work.

  8. Wheelie Bins says:

    Hope it all goes well, i know a lot of younger people these days cause a lot of trouble.

  9. Jon says:

    So what is the fix then. Andy and Alan-a-dale,
    when you have teenagers and children out at night till late, hanging around smoking drugs, drinking. trying to mug or intimidate people,
    My local shop during summer you can have up to 15 boy and girls standing on the steps to the shop. if you try and say anything you then have to deal with the whole group not just 1 person, this is when it get intimidating. .
    we don’t all live in a gated community, so off us live in ordinary streets. . and if some young youths are out trespassing on other peoples property then they have a right to ask the police to move them on.
    if a group of kids was be foul mouthed and abusive on your property, I can guarantee you, that you would not say oh that’s just kids having fun.

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