Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Dispersal Zone launched

Police will act against any gathering of more than 2 people in the Bush from now until the end of this year. This somewhat draconian reaction comes as a result of rising levels of incidents involving people (including young people) gathered in groups in the area south of Uxbridge Road right down to Goldhawk Road and beyond. What this means is that Police Constables (PCs) and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) now have the power to disperse groups of 2 or more people gathered on the street within the zone.

A PC or PCSO can tell people to disperse, either immediately or as they direct. Dispersed people who live outside the zone can be told to leave the zone immediately. The order to disperse can be for a maximum of 2 hours.

In addition to this between the hours of 2100 and 0600 any child under 16 years of age can be taken to their home or another place of safety if they are found within the dispersal zone and not in the control of an adult.

Anyone who doesn't do what they're told in these circumstances will be deemed to have committed an offence and will have to give their name and address.

If anyone refuses to disperse when they're ordered to, refuses to leave the zone when ordered, returns to the zone within 24 hours or fails to give their name and address when they've been asked to will have committed even more offences and could be arrested as a result, with a maximum penalty of 3 months in prison or a fine of £2500.

Tough stuff. Here's what the Police say about why they're doing this:

Local Shepherd's Bush Safer Neighbourhood Police Teams within the Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham have been working closely with local residents and businesses. They have heard how local people have been disrupted, disturbed and intimidated by local groups on the streets of Shepherd's Bush.

The evidence to support the need for a dispersal zone was closely scrutinised by a panel of senior members of the local authority, senior police officers and outside concerned agencies such as the probation service and housing providers.

We doubtless have issues with gangs in the Bush, and lets be frank this is at least in part what this is all about. Last week I was in Hammersmith Grove where Kodjo Yenga was killed 2 years ago and the knifing of Sofyen Belamoudden underlines where this sort of activity ends up. But low level crime is also undoubtedly and issue in may parts of W12 too. There will be lots of critics of this approach and people who feel uncomfortable with this sort of intervention, and to be honest I don't feel entirely at ease with it either - but the fact that the Police are acting and trying something new is something to be welcomed. And credit to the Council for giving them the back-up they need too. Time will tell whether or not it works.


  1. "Police will act against any gathering of more than 2 people in the Bush from now until the end of this year."

    Will the police disperse groups of white middle-class people or in this zone too? Now let me guess...

  2. Lets find out, white middle class people, lets meet on the Uxbridge Road tonight for a falafel, I'll be the one waving the Guardian.

    Is there a reason that the zone is the same shape as Texas?