Former mayor calls for action on anti-social behaviour in Stratford town centre - The Stratford Observer

Former mayor calls for action on anti-social behaviour in Stratford town centre

THE IMAGE of Stratford has changed beyond recognition according to a former town mayor who is calling for decisive action to clamp down on escalating violence and anti-social behaviour.

Cyril Bennis has contacted police bosses urging them to introduce a year-round police dispersal notice in Stratford town centre to deal with the anti-social behaviour from drunks and the younger generation which he estimates has been plaguing the town for the last two or three years.

Cyril pointed to a recent dispersal order which has been introduced in Nuneaton and Bedworth to aid police in dealing with the anti-social behaviour there and he called on Warwickshire Police to follow suit in Stratford.

Dispersal orders provide the police with the extra powers to break up groups of two or more people, where they believe their behaviour is causing a nuisance, harassment or distress.

According to Cyril, in just the last week there has been a fight outside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and another in Bridge Street and an altercation involving drunks outside the Nat West bank.

The Observer also reported earlier this month that two teenage boys were forced to take shelter in a restaurant in Bell Court after being pursued by a gang of balaclava-wearing youths they claimed were armed with a knife.

Cyril said these incidents was part of an ongoing situation which was causing distress and consternation in the local community but appeared to be completely out of police control.

He continued: “We are engulfed with an ongoing issue which threatens the safety of the community and we are expected just to accept it. The police are not able to control it. It is peaking to a situation where we cannot be sure what the outcome may by. It could snap at any moment.

“This is not about anything political. It is about how policing is now done in our communities. We are being subjected to this constantly and something has to be done. Residents and businesses are very concerned about what is happening. Many people are too worried to come into the town and that is having an effect on businesses who are concerned for their livelihoods.

“People don’t understand why they are getting away with it. It used to be such a peaceful community. But now the whole image of the town has changed beyond recognition. We are told that these people are vulnerable but it is us, the residents, who are the vulnerable.”

Stratford Police Inspector Ben Hembry told the Observer that dispersal powers were already used in Stratford over the summer months and would continue to be used.

But he added that while there had been several higher profile incidents in Stratford town recently, he did not believe there had been any specific or sustained rise in anti-social behaviour in the community.

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