NEW police powers to disperse or arrest troublesome groups around Broadgreen has been met with a mixed reaction in the area.

Wiltshire Police, in partnership with Swindon Council, applied for the extension of a town centre dispersal order to cover Broadgreen and Spring Gardens.

It will allow officers to move on groups of two or more people if their presence is considered intimidating or distressful to others. Any refusals to disperse will lead to arrests.

Residents believe it could help to drive down some very real problems around their homes at night.

Andre Pereira, 49, of Ponting Street, said: “You do get groups of people hanging around all the time, but usually at nights.

“It is always on the corners of the road and they hang around outside the shops. I came in at 11.30pm one night and you could see groups of prostitutes roaming around. Hopefully this could get rid of that problem altogether.

“There are also people who drink in the streets closer to the town centre. They come round the back of my house and leave their empty cans in the gutters. Sometimes I get my phone and stand outside my house, and when they spot me they disappear.

“It has been quite bad for six or seven months now.”

Pedro Fernandes, 55, of Gladstone Street, said: “The street has a lot of commotion all the time, especially round here. A lot of the time you can see the police cars coming round the corners.

“Nobody has troubled me but there are a lot of disturbances. Most of the time it’s after midnight when it gets quite bad and the cops get called in.”

But businesses in the area said they found the order unnecessary.

Dan Bateman, of Dan’s Cycles on Manchester Road, said: “I do not have any problems during working hours. The only time we ever have any trouble is during the football matches. There are groups around but I don’t really see any problems from them.”

Misty Moore, a bar worker at the Tap and Barrel, said she thought the order showed a dangerous extension of police powers. “I do not see how that is right,” she said.

“I don’t agree with it. Surely they have got to have a good reason to arrest someone rather than just there are two of them.

“We do get trouble but obviously police will get involved then, not just anybody they don’t like the look of. I think it will cause more trouble than it’s worth for them.”

Broadgreen community beat manager PC Luke Atkinson said: “This legislation is a vital tool which gives PCs and PCSOs the power to deal with anti-social behaviour around the town centre.

“Perpetrators of anti-social behaviour in groups can be dispersed for up to 24 hours and failure to comply with this order, or returning to the location within the designated time period, can and will lead to arrest.”