Apologies after unfair’ dispersal order

POLICE have apologised to teenagers in Huntingdon after what the mayor of the town described as their heavy-handed use of a dispersal order. Two officers, sector Inspector Andrew Pickles and Sergeant Jane Maggs, addressed a meeting of youth town council

POLICE have apologised to teenagers in Huntingdon after what the mayor of the town described as their "heavy-handed" use of a dispersal order.

Two officers, sector Inspector Andrew Pickles and Sergeant Jane Maggs, addressed a meeting of youth town councillors and said mistakes had been made.

The matter was raised with the police by the Mayor of Huntingdon, Councillor Jeff Dutton, shortly following the introduction

of a dispersal order in the town centre in November.

The order covers the area inside the ring road and allows the police to move on groups of two or more if they are believed to be acting in an anti-social manner.

However, Cllr Dutton said some youngsters felt the order, put in place by the police, district and town councils, was being used unfairly.

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They claimed that groups of as few as three school pupils had been told they were not allowed to walk home from school together on winter evenings.

Cllr Dutton said: "I received eight or nine complaints and two of them were from youth town councillors who are very responsible young people.

"We know that there are problems with groups but these are people coming out of nightclubs, not kids walking home from school or youngsters sitting quietly waiting for a lift home with their mum."

Cllr Dutton said there was also a case of a 15-year-old son of a Huntingdon town councillor who had been told by a police community support officer that he could not sit on the bench in St Benedict's Court and wait for her to come out of a council meeting.

Insp Pickles told The Hunts Post yesterday (Tuesday): "In the opening two weeks of the dispersal order some officers at times made mistakes. There were misunderstandings. The dispersal order was not being carried out as I wanted it to be but those mistakes have now been rectified."

Insp Pickles said he did not accept that policing had been heavy-handed.

"I said I was sorry that mistakes had been made and I apologised to anyone who had been affected by that."

He also added that the dispersal order was effective in the area near the ring road, a business area, and should not affect youngsters gathering outside schools.

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