Anti Social Behavior Dispersal Zone ruling in the High Court

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The High Court has today found for a 15 year old boy from Richmond on Thames, who was challenging the Government's Dispersal Zones which have been set up on many parts of London under the Anti-social Behavior Act 2003.

A local authority can declare an area to be a Dispersal Zone, where any police officer or community support officer can disperse a "group" of people, who appear tobe in some ill defined way "threatening", telling them to leave the area and not to return for 24 hors. This applies to people of any age, and a "group", is, astonishingly defined as only "two or more persons"
The vague definition of "threatening" means that many innocent people can be be dispersed, simply for what they are wearing, or, perhaps effectively just on racial or religous or appearance.

This power is unnaffected by the ruling of Mr. Justice Brookes today.

In addition, any person (i.e. even a single individual) who "appears to be under the age or 16" and who is not accompanied by a responsible adult, could be forcibly taken home or to "a place of safety" e.g. a police station, between the hours of 9pm and 6am - effectively a curfew for under 16s.

It is the catch all nature of the law, which does not make a distinction between under 16s who are causing trouble and those who are not, which was the issue, and which the High Court has now ruled as illegal. The plaintiff, supported by Liberty, argued that, for instance, he would not be able to go to an evening performance at the cinema in Richmond, without risking falling foul of this law on the way home.

Needless to say, most of the "trouble" caused in these town centre Dispersal Zones e.g. Richmond, Twickenham, Camden, the central zone coveing Soho etc., is not caused by under 16s, but by drunken adults.

The NuLabour politicians at the Home Office, who are never willing to admit that they so often get the balance between security and liberty wrong, look set to appeal, wasting more of our public money.

1 Comments

We live in a different world today, there are people who left their countries because of freedom suppression or lack of jobs. When they arrived here, they had forgotten of what they were looking for, instead staying on income support as long as they could, making troubles to relieve boredom, and if they are confronted by police, they use the word RACIST to hide their bad acts.

The wolrd is a diffent place today, if you are with a group of different race in middle east, then you will be a bomb target or have your head cut off by the same kind of people calling our society is Racist, I wonder who is the real one. At least, here the police tell you to disperse. I came here from Vietnam and find that police and local gouvernments are very kind and supportive.

Dean Pham.

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