Down & out in Bournemouth & Poole: Day 18 – Section 35 Dispersal Orders

Big up to David Cameron, his government have yet to resort to the sorts of social cleansing advocated by some American Consultants (see Vice News above). But the introduction of Section 35 Dispersal Orders is every bit as vile as the solitary confinement measures being advocated by American Consultants, as a means of making homeless people ‘disappear ‘ from wholesome towns and cities.

Section 35 is the new legislation being used by the police to remove homeless people who appear to be creating a nuisance from the town centre. It’s generally referred to by us all as a section 35 when someone gets moved on for looking homeless but it’s true title is a dispersal order as covered by Sections 34 – 42 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The dispersal power is available to uniformed police officers and designated Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) to deal with individuals engaging in anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder, not only when they have occurred or are occurring but when they are likely to occur and in any locality.  The dispersal power replaces those available under s.27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 and s.30 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. I was unfortunate enough to see one such arrest take place using this legislation.

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The woman arrested had been moved on from Poole bus depot where a theft had occurred which she was not involved with. She then wound up at the local library and as she hadn’t slept well the night before she fell asleep but forgot to switch her phone off. The phone rang whilst she was asleep, she was asked to switch the phone off, she ignored the request, security and a police community support officer arrived on the scene and then in due course a uniformed officer. Eventually she was arrested and taken down to the local police station and released later that day.

When she was arrested other homeless people were also present in the library, they didn’t like what they saw or how she was treated. The lady had asked to go to the toilet, no female police officer was requested and when she declared that she was prepared to use a bin and urinate in it in public a uniformed male officer was called in.

I get that the lady’s phone may have been disruptive but when did she cease to deserve the considered treatment that would have been accorded her if she wasn’t so obviously a homeless person?

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Section 35 was used in moderation in Bournemouth when it was first introduced but now it is used prolifically. Over the period of a year over five hundred of these dispersal orders were issued. My guess is that they would have been issued around the area of Boscombe in Bournemouth were a lot of drug addicts don’t start off, but very often end up. Once issued the addicts wind up in Poole where the problem is sorted pretty much as it was in Bournemouth, the drug addicts get issued with more dispersal orders and get arrested and then move back to Bournemouth.

There should be a night shelter for these guys whilst they drift from Bournemouth to Poole and back again, but there isn’t. There should be a night shelter that enables them to rest up after they’ve been driven out of Bournemouth to Poole town, some place out of the way of ‘decent’ people but there isn’t. If they’re not mean’t to be around places where there’s CCTV so they don’t get robbed, and warmth so they don’t freeze to death, where exactly are they supposed to be?

The soup kitchens, foodbanks and the soup run are all around the town centre, so being banned from the town centre effectively means that they have no access to those services. To be fair to Poole Police, they bail these guys leaving them free to have some access to these services but I’ve a feeling they’re not nearly so charitable in Bournemouth.

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