An area of Spalding seen as a “magnet for trouble” in recent months is making fewer headlines thanks to a concerted police effort there.
Only two incidents have been reported around The Vista, Ayscoughfee Gardens and St Nicolas Church Hall since a new Dispersal Order took effect in July.
The area had been a hotbed of crime and disorder in recent months, including an attack near The Vista in June when three men suffered cuts to the back, hands and eye.
But since the launch of Operation Warrington by Spalding police on July 25, only two groups of people have been ordered away from the area.
In his column for the Guardian this week, Spalding community policing inspector Jim Tyner said: “It’s only two weeks since Operation Warrington was implemented, but the feedback from those who had been suffering from the relentless anti-social behaviour is really encouraging.
“Users of the church hall and staff at The Vista and Ayscoughfee have said that things have significantly improved.
“The anti-social footballers and after-dark haven’t been seen since the Dispersal Order started.”
Police dealt with a report of men fighting in Ayscoughfee Gardens last Monday when several street drinkers were told to leave the area.
Last Tuesday, a group of youth were told to move from outside St Nicolas Church Hall, including one who was drunk and taken home to his parents.
Insp Tyner said: “A minimum of two PCSOs (police community support officers) on late shift have been dedicated to patrolling the dispersal zone every day.
“In addition, there have been reaasurance daytime patrols and our emergency response teams have provided regular patrols from 10pm onwards.
“This demonstrates my determination for the police to play their part.
The Guardian reported in June that groups like the 1st Spalding Guides, Brownies and Rainbows had decided to hold its meeting away from the church hall because of the trouble.
But Cath Gibson, youth worker with The Vista Crew of teenagers who use the hall every other Saturday, said: “We’ve not had any problems at all with anti-social behaviour and the area around The Vista appears to be a lot cleaner.
“In the past, there have been empty beer cans, bottles and cigarette butts left around, but we’ve not seen anything at all over the last couple of weeks.
“As volunteers, we certainly feel safer and it’s quite nice now that we can go to the hall knowing things are going to be intact and not vandalised.”
The Dispersal Order allows police to order any groups involved in or suspected of causing trouble in a specific area of Spalding agreed between Lincolnshire Police and South Holland District Council to leave.
Police can also ban groups from the area for up to 24 hours and take home anyone under the age of 16 who is not with their parents and found to be involved in disorder.
Rev John Bennett, vicar of St Mary and St Nicolas Church, said: “The Dispersal Order and the publicity it has been given have made a real difference.
“The church hall is once again a pleasant place to be around in the evenings and still a great venue for hire.
“We appreciate what the police have done, especially Insp Tyner, to deal with the immediate problem and I am confident they have the right strategies to keep any trouble to a minimum in the future.”
Insp Tyner and Mr Bennett both urged the district council to tackle the problem of the derelict Bull and Monkie pub which was identified as a “blot on the landscape” by the Guardian two weeks ago.
“While the site remains in its current state, it is a magnet for trouble,” Insp Tyner said.
Mr Bennett added: “Demolishing the Bull and Monkie should be the first priority.”