A new dispersal zone has come into force this week in Waterloo following an increase in the number of complaints about anti-social behaviour linked to rough sleepers.
Lambeth Council and police say that they implemented the dispersal zone on 5 January following demands from the business community and local residents who complained about a rise in anti-social behaviour, aggressive begging, criminal acts and street drinking linked to the street population.
The new dispersal zone – established under section 30 of the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 – will give the police powers to move people on in cases of persistent anti-social behaviour and to respond to hotspots where the rough sleeping is becoming entrenched.
At the same time dedicated police will be patrolling the South Bank and increased outreach support will help rough sleepers into treatment services and accommodation.
"Local residents wanted us to take action so that is exactly what we have done," says Cllr Donatus Anyanwu, Lambeth's cabinet member for safer communities.
"We have to make sure rough sleeping doesn't become a persistent problem, which is why we're putting the zone in place.
"At the same time many rough sleepers are victims of crime rather than the perpetrators, and we don't want to simply move rough sleeping elsewhere, so it's important that we step up our outreach work to help rough sleepers get off the streets."
The authority stresses that dispersal zones are not curfews or blanket bans. They do not prevent anyone from entering the area, but they can address anti-social behaviour by curtailing two or more persons presence in that area for up to 24 hours.
Supt Alistair Sutherland, the acting borough commander for Lambeth Police, said: "These numbers are not sustainable and it is therefore necessary for the agencies involved to disperse the street drinking and large numbers of rough sleepers before they become entrenched in this behaviour.
"Any police activity will be undertaken in close collaboration with the council's street population outreach services."
The dispersal zone remains in force until 5 June and covers the following streets in Waterloo:
Aquinas Street, Baylis Road, Belvedere Road, Brad Street, Broadwall, Chaplin Close, Chicheley Street, Coin Street, Concert Hall Approach, Cons Street, Coral Street, Cornwall Road, Doon Street, Duchy Street, Exton Street, Frazier Street, Gray Street, Greet Street, Hatfields, Holmes Terrace, Johanna Street, Lower Marsh, Mepham Street, Mitre Road, Morley Street, Murphy Street, Pearman Street, Roupell Street, Sandell Street, Secker Street, Stamford Street, The Cut, Theed Street, Ufford Street, Upper Ground, Waterloo Road, Webber Street, Westminster Bridge Road, Whittlesey Street, Windmill Walk, Wootton Street, York Road.
The council says that the dispersal zone will be reviewed every month.