A SIX-MONTH ‘dispersal zone’ will today come into force to combat anti-social behavior and crime around Vauxhall’s busy nightclubs.
The zone, where police will be able to split up groups of two or more people until March 5 next year, will crack down on robbery and theft as well as groups using nitrus oxide, better known as laughing gas, for a legal high.
Groups can be dispersed where police believe their presence has caused, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress.
Groups causing anti-social behaviour will be asked to leave and not return for 24 hours. If they return and continue to cause problems, they could face a fine of up to £2,500 or three months behind bars.
Inspector Neil Cochlin, from Lambeth North Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “This new power will be a very useful addition to our legal tools in tackling local crime and anti-social behaviour. It is worth noting that during the consultation process there was overwhelming support from residents and businesses for a dispersal zone. Officers will also have the discretionary power to return young people home who are under 16 years of age and are on the streets not under the control of an adult after 21.00hrs.
“We will be monitoring the use of the dispersal zone over the next six months to ensure it remains effective. Vauxhall is a great place to live, work and travel through. It is the intention the police and all our partners that this remains the case.”
Cllr Jane Edbrooke, Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, said: “We are acting promptly to tackle this emerging problem at the request of local people. We are seeing groups of people leaving nightclubs and then congregating in the area, around spots that include the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.
“Many appear to be taking the legal high nitrous oxide, and then have their own little parties around cars with the stereos turned up to play loud music. We are working closely with Lambeth police on discouraging this anti-social behaviour.”
The zone will stretch between Black Prince Road (SE1), Newburn Street (SE11), Courtenay Street (SE11), Kennington Lane (SE11), Durham Road (SE11), Ebbisham Drive (SW8), Lawn Lane (SW8), Parry Street (SW8), Albert Embankment (SE1) and Salamanca Street (SE1).