UK & World News
Children Banned From City Centre At Night
Children under 16 have been banned from going into a city centre in North Wales at night in a bid to crackdown on anti-social behaviour.
The move in Bangor, Gwynedd, means under-16s who are not accompanied by an adult are barred from the streets from 9pm to 6am.
North Wales Police and Gwynedd County Council took the controversial step after complaints about groups drinking alcohol on the streets and harassing residents.
Police inspector Simon Barrasford said: "Dispersal orders have proved an effective weapon against anti-social behaviour in other parts of the force and can demonstrate how partnership working can be most effective.
"Many people are working very hard to improve and regenerate the city centre as well as just wanting to enjoy their daily lives without being intimidated or harassed and I have no doubt dispersal orders areas will assist in that endeavour.
"Drinking in public has an adverse effect not only on visitors' perception but also on the quality of life of residents. Working closely with our partners in the local authorities I'm confident that we can have a positive impact on the area."
The ban - the first time one has been brought in in a Welsh City - is scheduled to last six months.
It gives police (including police community support officers) powers to order groups of two or more to leave the area and failure to comply could lead to up to three months imprisonment and or a fine of up to £2,500.
Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: "The idea you could be fined or imprisoned for walking through the town centre simply because you are 15 and not accompanied by a parent is simply madness.
"To say that any under-16-year-old who is unaccompanied between 9pm and 6am isa criminal is the kind of draconian law you'd expect in North Korea, not North Wales.
"Criminalising every young person in Bangor - without any need for them to be engaged in any wrongdoing - is an unwarranted and disproportionate intrusion onto the civil liberties of thousands of perfectly law abiding young people."