Dispersal Orders and Ecops Operation in Cambridge

To: Kevin Wilkins (County Councillor and Police Authority member with a specialisation in Cambridge City) and Olive Main, Independent Member of the Police Authority.

At the Cambridge City Council’s East Area Committee on the 28th of February Sgt. Cross of the Police reported problems with the operation of dispersal zone which includes Mill Road in Cambridge. He drew attention to the fact that the form used during a dispersal contains a list of around 120 streets to define the area from which the person is expelled from when they are dispersed under section 30 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. He reported that Magistrates were letting people off any punishment for breaching their dispersal order on the grounds, raised by the defendants solicitors, that the form is too complicated to understand.

As you may recall from my email of the 6th of October 2007 I oppose the excessive (in both area covered and draconian nature) and poorly regulated use of the dispersal zones in Cambridge City. However the current situation where these zones are dysfunctional due to poor communication as the result of a poor form is something which you at the Police Authority could improve.

You could:

  • Ensure all dispersal order “receipts” – the element of the form given to the person being dispersed, contain a clear map.
  • Ensure the dispersal zones are clearly signed (I do not believe they are).
  • Ensure the extent of the dispersal zones are better publicised.

Another point brought up at the meeting which you are in a position to solve is the use of the Ecops email system for recording crime. In the East of Cambridge Sgt. Cross revealed that he does extract crimes from Ecops emails, whereas in North Cambridge, a different neighborhood policing team explicitly refuse to “raise incidents” as the result of an Ecops email. As a result I have been told reports of crimes made via the Ecops system do not get recorded by the Police’s statistics, though they still encourage reports of minor crime to be made via the system, whereby it will go unrecorded. I would like to suggest standardisation of the practice of including reports of crime and anti-social behaviour reported via Ecops. Even if this is not done, the current practice of recommending the reporting of crime and ASB via a route whereby it goes unreported clearly ought to be stopped.

Many thanks,

Richard Taylor

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