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Waterloo dispersal

May 28 2009
A new dispersal zone around Waterloo Station targets rough sleepers The police are to use new powers to move on rough sleepers from around Waterloo station. A 'dispersal zone', introduced by Lambeth Council on 5 January to reduce the numbers of entrenched rough sleepers, will be in place for six months.

It has been introduced under Section 30 of the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003, which allows police to establish and enforce dispersal zones where there are reasonable grounds to believe that there is persistent antisocial behaviour. More dedicated police will patrol the South Bank and increased outreach support will be provided to help rough sleepers into treatment services and accommodation. Councillor Donatus Anyanwu, Lambeth's cabinet member for safer communities, said: "Local residents wanted us to take action so that is exactly what we have done."

A claimed increase in the numbers of rough sleepers on the South Bank sparked a rise in complaints from the business community and residents associating them with antisocial behaviour, aggressive begging, criminal acts and street drinking. The most recent official count from ThamesReach found a dozen rough sleepers in the Waterloo area.

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."

It is understood that ThamesReach will work closely with local authorities, and the introduction of the dispersal zone follows consultation between councillors, local charities, hostels and the police. However, David Clover, interim manager at Webber Street day centre, said the dispersal zone seemed to be targeting A10 rough sleepers. There has been growing disquiet about the behaviour of Eastern Europeans who have been forced onto the streets after failing to find work. Reports of increased street drinking and abusive behaviour - particularly towards young women - have upset local communities and longer-term rough sleepers. Several readers have speculated that authorities cannot be seen to be acting unfavourably towards a specific group of individuals, so measures aimed at migrants have to be given a broad-brush treatment. This affects members of the homeless community who would otherwise not need to be disturbed by the authorities. But Mr Clover said the police and authorities in Waterloo were very experienced at dealing with rough sleepers, and he hoped that the dispersal zone would be implemented fairly.

A spokesperson for Lambeth Council said the dispersal zone was as much about protecting rough sleepers against antisocial behaviour as it was about reducing rough sleeping numbers. "Many of the homeless people were on the receiving end and not the perpetrators of antisocial behaviour, so the dispersal zone is about taking action against antisocial behaviour to protect the rough sleepers but also to step up outreach work to help support rough sleepers off the streets."

Lambeth has outreach services and provides funding to five homeless hostels. Anyone moved on in Lambeth will be referred to one of these services. When asked why the council had selected specific Waterloo streets, rather than introducing a blanket ban, the spokesperson explained it was designed to target streets where antisocial behaviour had been reported. "There have been criminal acts and cases of anti social behaviour in the area, with many homeless people on the receiving end," the spokesperson said. "These streets were an agreed priority area." Clapham successfully implemented a dispersal zone to tackle a group of antisocial youths on an estate.

The Pavement
will be monitoring the implementation of the dispersal zone, and urges anyone in the Lambeth area to get in touch with their views.

Where will you be moved on from?

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, and York Road.