Last week, there was a meeting including the police, local youth groups, Cllr Barry Bowles from Hall Green ward (which includes a chunk of the Gospel and has also suffered from problems) and some parents and young people from the Gospel Estate. We really wanted to hear from the young people on the estate, identify their problems and try to find some common ground so that we can move forward. We'll be putting together a programme of diversionary activities - subject to funding being secured - and we'll try to meet some of their needs. Hopefully, at least one of the young men will get the golden opportunity of joining a new intake to the Prince's Trust programme - it is an opportunity, because he still has to want to succeed and change his own life. We want to support them, but they also know what the police - and the community - aren't prepared to tolerate. There's something of a deal to be struck here and room for mutual understanding.
The police have also applied for - and just been granted a dispersal order covering the Gospel Estate. This will be in force from the 14 October 2013 to the 14 April 2014 in the first instance. This gives uniformed police and community support officers the power to ask any group of two or more persons to disperse immediately or by a stated time. The officer has to have reasonable grounds to believe that the presence of these people may result in any member of the public being intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distressed. Between 9pm and 6am, they also have the power to take young people under the age of 16 back to their homes. This has had support from councillors in both wards, although I've been very clear with the police that I expect this power to be used with discretion and common sense.