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Albert Embankment clubs: cops & council introduce dispersal zone

Police have new powers to move on groups of people gathering around Vauxhall's nightclubs under a six-month dispersal zone introduced on Friday.

The dispersal zone will cover the area bound by Black Prince Road (SE11), Newburn Street (SE11), Courtenay Street (SE11), Kennington Lane (SE11), Durham Road (SE11), Ebbisham Drive (SW8), Lawn Lane (SW8), Parry Street (SW8), Albert Embankment (SE1) and Salamanca Street (SE1).

The Metropolitan Police and Lambeth Council have used powers under section 30 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 to introduce the zone which is intended to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime in Vauxhall.

It is hoped it will help reduce incidents of robbery and theft and it will also target groups gathering through the night and using legal high nitrous oxide.

The zone means that police officers will have the power to disperse groups of two or more people where they believe their presence has or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Groups of individuals causing anti-social behaviour in the dispersal area will be instructed to leave and not return for a period of 24 hours. If they return and continue to cause problems, they can be arrested.

Anyone found guilty of contravening a direction under a dispersal order can face up to three months imprisonment or a fine of up to 2,500.

The dispersal order is in force for six months until March 2015.

"This new power will be a very useful addition to our legal tools in tackling local crime and anti-social behaviour," said Inspector Neil Cochlin from Lambeth North Neighbourhood Policing Team.

"It is worth noting that during the consultation process there was overwhelming support from residents and businesses for a dispersal zone. Officers will also have the discretionary power to return young people home who are under 16 years of age and are on the streets not under the control of an adult after 21.00.

"We will be monitoring the use of the dispersal zone over the next six months to ensure it remains effective. Vauxhall is a great place to live, work and travel through. It is the intention the police and all our partners that this remains the case."

Cllr Jane Edbrooke, Lambeth's cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: "We are acting promptly to tackle this emerging problem at the request of local people.

"We are seeing groups of people leaving nightclubs and then congregating in the area, around spots that include the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.

"Many appear to be taking the legal high nitrous oxide, and then have their own little parties around cars with the stereos turned up to play loud music.

"We are working closely with Lambeth police on discouraging this anti-social behaviour."

Anti-social behaviour can be reported to Lambeth Council's Anti-Social Behaviour Reporting line on 020 7926 4000 in addition to reporting the matter to police.

In 2009 a dispersal zone was established in Waterloo.

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