WITH Bicester town centre bearing the brunt of antisocial behaviour of late, Thames Valley Police now wants to have more power to enforce harsher punishments for young offenders.

Bicester has experienced years of troublesome behaviour, with the latest incident happening on New Year’s Eve when police dealt with nine youngsters in the town centre.

They were each handed Section 34 orders, banning them from going back to the town centre for 48 hours, but residents called for more severe consequences.

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Now, Bicester police station is applying for a Civil Injunction covering the core of the town centre, including Sheep Street, Pioneer Square, Market Square and Manorsfield Road.

This would be called a 'restricted area' and if a young person - or anyone else - breaks the rules set by the police in this area, they will be told to disperse.

Based off a 'green, amber, red' system, if they repeatedly offend, they could be arrested.

Some of the things that could warrant a punishment include: not dispersing from the restricted area after being told to do so by an ‘authorised person’; obstructing footpaths and highways; drugs; alcohol; verbal abuse and general antisocial acts like spitting.

But in order to make the Civil Injunction application to the court, Thames Valley Police has to consult locally to show that there is no objection to the injunction.

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At a town council meeting on Tuesday, councillors unanimously agreed that no objection be raised to the application.

Bicester Town Councillor Les Sibley said: "The behaviour has been quite bad for the past few months so I fully support the system, but we are concerned that people will be classed as criminals at a young age which could affect their whole life.

"It's therefore key that young people are educated so that they are aware of these things.

"People have said they don't feel safe going into the town centre and if we want the town centre to survive, people need to feel comfortable going there. We need to make the town centre open and available for everybody - we don't want to turn people away."

Mr Sibley also said that the injunction could be extended to other areas of the town.

Thames Valley Police says it remains 'committed' to tackling Bicester's antisocial behaviour.

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A statement from the force said: "Thames Valley Police is currently in consultation with partners and local businesses with a view to applying for an injunction to tackle anti-social behaviour in the town. The injunction would give powers to disperse groups of people who are engaging in anti-social behaviour.

"We remain committed to reducing anti-social behaviour in Bicester and will continue to work with our partners and members of the community to do so."