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Dispersal zone extended at Waterloo

October 01 2009
Local authorities dub it "a huge success" The dispersal zone introduced around London's Waterloo station in January has been extended following what local authorities have dubbed a "massive success". Lambeth Council and Metropolitan Police will reintroduce the Waterloo dispersal zone after a reported sharp decline in the number of rough sleepers and street drinkers in the area over the past six months, the original aim of the zone. Dispersal zone legal powers come from the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, which allows police to move on groups whose behaviour is believed to result in, or likely to result in, a member of the public being harassed, intimidated, alarmed or distressed. This can happen only in the designated area, and individuals are directed to leave the locality and may be excluded from the area for up to 24 hours. During the six months to 4th July 2009, the police made 165 dispersals and five arrests. Figures show that the average number of persistent anti-social offenders has fallen from 80 to 15. Details of these offences were not available. After a six-week break, when authorities and the local community discussed the value of the zone, it was decided that it would run for a further six months from 17th August 2009 to 16th February 2010. Lambeth Council said Waterloo residents had been particularly impressed by the significant reduction in rough sleeping, street drinking and aggressive begging. The authorities said they were working with local homeless charities to move individuals away from the streets and into accommodation and employment. Andy Solomon-Osborne, team manager of Thames Reach Lambeth, which is working closely with the project, said: "Many of the individuals found in the Waterloo area are part of a drinking group or begging, and not rough sleeping. It is important to get the message across that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated in Waterloo and the dispersal zone communicates this message. We must do all we can to prevent the area from becoming a magnet for anti-social behaviour as a lot of Waterloo's street population is made up of people from outside of Lambeth." Under legal parameters, the area covered by the zone must be hanged before reintroduction. It now includes the area around Archbishop's Park, but the area around the Tanswell Estate has been removed.