POLICE have been given the power to enforce curfews on unruly youngsters causing trouble in Richmond and Twickenham.
Under the new rules under 16s found in the town centres after 9pm will be taken home if they are found to be causing a "significant nuisance". Older groups engaged in anti-social behaviour will also be ordered out of the dispersal zones and not allowed back for 24 hours.
The scheme will initially be in place for six months, and those failing to comply could be arrested and face a hefty fine or up to three months in jail.
The powers, which have been agreed by Richmond Council, cover central Twickenham, from The Green to the riverside and up to Chertsey Road. In Richmond the area covers the town centre, including Richmond Green, down to Lower Mortlake Road.
The council's deputy leader Stephen Knight, said the under 16s curfew would only be used as a last resort. "We are proud of our reputation as the best place to live in London, our town centres are safe and welcoming places, and measures like this ensure they stay that way," he said.
"The aim of these powers is to further re-assure residents and visitors who might feel worried by groups of people hanging around or being anti-social. The extra power to take under-16s home is at the discretion of the police, but I would like to stress that this is only something that would be used in extreme circumstances.”
Richmond's borough commander Detective Chief Inspector Rick Turner said the zones allowed his force to target problem areas and confirmed he had upped uniformed patrols during the summer months to reassure residents.
"These new powers will enable the police and the Council to work together to identify problem areas which need targeted action to remove intimidation and anti-social behaviour from our streets," he said.
“These powers will be used alongside the controlled drinking zones and are an organised response to tackling crime and disorder in certain areas.”