Leicester's Highfields 'anti-intimidation' police order row

Police moves to tackle anti-social behaviour in Leicester have been criticised as too heavy-handed.

A Section 30 order, which allows officers to move on groups they suspect may cause trouble, has been granted in the Highfields area.

Community leaders and councillors have said its use is creating widespread resentment.

Police said the order was used at the request of residents concerned about "harassment and intimidation".

'Prison threat'

Councillor George Cole said concern focussed on people being stopped in public without reason or explanation.

"It does not help the reputation of police," he said. "It is quite draconian to be honest, you could end up in prison for several months or be fined several thousand pounds.

"And this for just standing around or just walking down the street as an innocent person just maybe waiting for a member of your family or a friend.

"These people can stop you and if you have not got proof of what you are doing or who you are waiting for, they can lock you up in prison and take you to court and who knows what the outcome could be?"

Chino Cabon, from the Race Equality Centre in Leicester, said there had not been enough consultation.

"Of course the police should be free to use the powers that are available to them to deal with the problems that exist," he said.

'Quite confrontational'

"But part of the way in which they do that should engage effectively with local communities and prevent the kind of consternation arising that police themselves will tell you causes additional problems."

Bill Knopp, local police inspector for the area, said: "We are looking at groups of sometimes 50 young people blocking alleyways, smoking drugs in doorways and when police officers were coming they were refusing to disperse and getting quite confrontational.

"Residents had seen what had happened in different parts of the city, in Belgrave and Northfield, and they came to us and said 'This is a power you are using in other areas, will you consider using it here?'."

He added more work would be done to explain to the community what powers were being used and why.

The temporary order will expire in December.

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