As a result of high levels of anti-social behaviour in Whitechapel, a temporary dispersal zone has been introduced in the area this week.
The dispersal zone will give police officers the power to demand that people leave the area for 24 hours if their behaviour is considered antisocial. Anyone refusing to leave could be fined up to £2,500 or face arrest. Between 9 pm and 6 am the police will also be able to remove unsupervised young people (anyone under the age of 16) from the area and take them back to their homes.
The zone covers an area with a busy night life, frequented by tourists as well as Londoners from other boroughs, and residents have complained to the council about noise and disrespectful behaviour.
Local resident Mark, 41, is in favour of the initiative:
“People here get beaten up all the time, so there is definitely a problem and always have been. Something has to be done, so I think it is the right thing to do.”
Lauren, 27, on the other hand, does not believe this measure will put an end anti-social behaviour in the area:
“You are just going to send them to another area that will create problems,” she said, “so you might as well try to act on the situation when it happens.”
The dispersal zone in Whitechapel stretches from Commercial Street in the west to Whitechapel Road in the south, Bethnal Green Road in the north, and Wilmot Street and Brady Street in the east.
This is the second time that Tower Hamlets council has used its powers to introduce a dispersal zone in the borough. A previous temporary zone covered a smaller area in Bethnal Green.
The dispersal zone is set to end in the beginning of November 2013.