Human rights charity Liberty has warned of a rash of dispersal
areas springing up across the country over the summer to coincide
with the lighter evenings and the school holidays.
Liberty said it was concerned that the anticipated action would
force children to live in fear of the police and was likely to
result in discrimination against children from certain
The warning comes as the charity awaits the outcome of last
week’s High Court challenge to three dispersal areas by W, a
15-year-old from Richmond. A judgement is expected within the next
two weeks and the charity is hopeful it could have implications for
the future use of dispersal and curfew powers.
The case, backed by Liberty, is based on the notion that only
those suspected of wrongdoing should be subject to sanctions such
as curfews and police arrest.
Alex Gask, Liberty’s legal officer who is acting for W,
said: “There is a real danger of sweeping so-called
‘anti-yob powers’ demonising an entire generation of
mostly decent kids.”
However, a spokesperson for Richmond Council said the power to
remove young people from these areas was a discretionary power used
by the police only when they felt an unaccompanied young person
under the age of 16 was behaving, or looked like they might behave,
in an antisocial way.
He said the three time-limited dispersal areas put in place at
the request of the police and with the backing of the council last
summer had proven their power in reducing antisocial behaviour and
were expected to be reinstated this year.