Monday, 27 August 2007

BOURNEMOUTH: Six arrests as police prevent repeat behaviour

BOURNEMOUTH: Six arrests as police prevent repeat behaviour

OUT IN FORCE: Police monitor the crowd at
Bournemouth Pier during Friday's fireworks display

MOBILE phones were confiscated and six arrests made as police quelled bad behaviour at Friday night's fireworks display.

For the first time in three weeks, the hours after the popular summer event passed off relatively peacefully.

Each of the six people arrested had their mobiles taken as Dorset Police followed through their warning to seize phones if they were being used to video antisocial behaviour.

Police said that at least three or four more arrests were likely later this week once CCTV footage of Friday night had been studied.

More than 60 officers, dogs, two mounted police from Avon and Somerset and the police helicopter were drafted in to prevent trouble.

LIGHT FANTASTIC: The spectacular
display passed off relatively peacefully

Buses bringing groups of young people into town were searched and knuckle dusters were found on one.

"Clearly some people had come down with the intention of causing trouble," said Supt Stuart Katon, who was in charge of the operation.

"There are probably about 20 to 30 ringleaders, the hardcore people who just want to come and get drunk and engage in antisocial behaviour. We identified the ringleaders and if they were misbehaving, they were taken out of the frame.

"Our response is proportionate. Any family should feel comfortable to come to Bournemouth and walk freely in the Gardens. That's why we had the increased presence."

The bill for extra policing over the last three Fridays has been estimated at £40,000 - and there is still one more display to go.

Mr Katon said: "There will be the same response next week in terms of policing."

One officer said he thought the atmosphere around the Pier Approach had been less tense than it was the previous Friday, when 10 people were arrested.

But as the crowds dispersed, large groups of youths stayed behind. Someone threw coins at an officer, and one teenager admitted he had come to see if there would be a fight.

A line of officers, including the dog handlers and mounted police, formed to move the youngsters back, watched by holidaymakers and residents.

For five or 10 minutes, it looked as if there would be a stand-off, but more people drifted away and the rest were herded back through the gardens.

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood, who was there to observe what happened, called the level of policing "unsustainable".

"We need a long-term solution," he said. "Unfortunately it's now very much a British disease to go out to get drunk, which is fuelling antisocial behaviour."

Mr Ellwood, who is shadow minister for tourism, gambling and licensing, believes the town centre has reached saturation point with the number of licensed premises.

"This summer we've had to draft in extra police support, which suggests we are unable to manage security within our own means. We will get labelled in a way which will be detrimental in the long-term," he warned.

Bournemouth Tourism said the fireworks were "as usual, an attractive, safe and family fun occasion for both residents and visitors to the town".

Mark Smith, head of tourism, said: "Last weekend we canvassed the opinions of a number of families with young children to assess their reaction to the event. All thoroughly enjoyed the event and none could make any suggestions to improve it.

"The fireworks display is successful, safe and well-managed.

"It was a real pleasure to see so many families enjoying last night's free event.

"I even met a couple who had come all the way from Hawaii and they were thrilled with the display and with the calm, safe family atmosphere."

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