Police have brought in a county-wide dispersal order this weekend as part of an attempt to crack down on illegal trap racing in the area.

Hampshire Constabulary brought in the Section 35 order at midday yesterday, and it will run until midday on Sunday. Under the powers, police are able to order anyone to leave the area, whether or not they live here, provided that they are likely to contribute to crime and disorder.

Chief Superintendent Paul Bartolomeo said: “Racing on public road networks is an offence, and will result in us taking enforcement action.

“These activities can be conducted lawfully elsewhere, such as on private land, and we will not be tolerating the use of Hampshire’s roads for an illegal sporting event.

“We will deal with offences robustly, and take action wherever we have a power in law to do so.

“A Section 35 dispersal order has been authorised from 12pm on Friday 18 June until 12pm on Sunday 20 June, and will be in place across the whole of the county.

“This gives officers the power to disperse people under Section 35 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014; they can also seize any items used in the commission of anti-social behaviour.

“We appreciate the support of our partners in managing this situation, as well as the patience of the communities we serve.”

The powers have been used in an attempt to prevent a repeat of events at the start of May, when parts of the A33 near Micheldever was closed for two days as unauthorised horse and trap racing took place on the road.

Police faced criticism for their decision not to disperse those taking part, which they defended by saying it was safer to allow it to go ahead rather than attempt a shutdown.

Those taking part had planned to return, with one event broken up on May 31, and a planned event for this weekend (June 19-20) the target of this latest order.

Powers under Section 35 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 allow an inspector or higher rank to implement dispersal orders for a maximum of 48 hours, provided it is for a specific purpose to reduce crime and harassment.

Uniformed officers can then instruct anyone to leave an area, or part of it, and not return for a specified amount of time. However, those given the order must be allowed to have access to their home and work.

They can also additionally seize any item that a member of the public being ordered to leave that the officer “reasonably believes” may be used to cause harassment or disorder. It is then returned after the order expires.

Failure to comply with the order is an offence, which can lead to imprisonment of up to three months or a fine of up to £2,500.