Police powers extended to help tackle anti-social behaviour across Wigan and ‘target unacceptable perpetrators’

By Henry Vaughan

Powers given to police to tackle anti-social behaviour are being extended as part of a robust ongoing Wigan borough-wide strategy.

The Section 30 Dispersal Zone, introduced last October after a spate of public order offences on the Trees Estate, Westleigh, has been extended for another six months following joint action by Greater Manchester Police, Wigan Council and Wigan and Leigh Housing.

Residents had complained of incidents of criminal damage and the targeting of vulnerable people by rowdy groups.

Superintendent Andrea Jones, of Greater Manchester Police, Wigan Division, said: “We are not demonising young people, who can often be unfairly stigmatised.

“We intend to use these powers to target all perpetrators of unacceptable behaviour, especially that which is alcohol-fuelled. “

The area encircled by Kirkhall Lane, Atherleigh Way and Westleigh Lane includes Bright Street, Holly Grove, Holt Street and Yates Street.

The Section 30 gives police and PCSOs additional powers, enabling them to tell people to leave the area immediately or within a specific time, or to tell people who don’t live there to not return for up to 24 hours.

As part of the measures teenagers below the age of 16, who are not under the control of a parent or responsible person over 18, may be taken home or to an alternative place of safety.

Superintendent Jones added: “We will not necessarily disperse groups in this area just for being in a group. Nor is this an exclusion zone or curfew area.

“It is an effective tool in helping to make the area a more pleasant, safer place for everyone.”

Sections 30s have proven to be an effective tool in addressing anti-social behaviour across the borough, with areas around Beech Hill, Standish and Norley Hall seeing significant reductions in reported incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Terry Dunn, Director of Environment at Wigan Council, said: “We will not stand by and allow rowdy groups to create unofficial ‘no go zones’ where decent law abiding citizens are afraid to venture.

“This joint action sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate harassment or intimidation in any form.”

For details, contact Leigh Neighbourhood Policing Team on 0161 856 7225, or to report incidents of anti-social behaviour, contact Wigan Council’s ASB helpline on 01942 404 364.

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