A DISPERSAL order has been imposed in Andover town area for the weekend as police look to curb anti-social behaviour in the run up to Christmas.

The order will cover the major areas in the town has been issued as part of Operation Scrooge, a campaign to target shoplifters and anti-social behaviour in the Test Valley district.

It will come into effect at 5pm today (Friday, December 10) and will run until 5pm on Sunday, December 12.

The areas covered under the dispersal order are marked in a map shared by the Hampshire Constabulary.

Andover Advertiser: A map showing the areas covered by dispersal orders in AndoverA map showing the areas covered by dispersal orders in Andover

The dispersal order gives police officers the power to order a person to leave the area for a 48-hour period with no return. Refusal to comply with the order is a criminal offence.

Those under 16 will be taken to their home address, or place of safety, and follow-up work will be done with parents.

A spokesperson for the Hampshire Constabulary said: “While our teams have been conducting extra patrols in the area as part of Operation Scrooge, we are now also making use of a Section 34 dispersal order.

“We are using the dispersal tool as a means to deal with this rise in anti-social behaviour, while supporting the local residents in line with our commitment to keeping our communities safe and ensure Andover remains a safe place to live.”

Inspector Chris Taylor said: “We know that anti-social behaviour can have a negative impact on the lives of those who live and work in our community.

“While we have ensured extra patrols in hot-spot areas, we also feel that making use of these powers to disperse groups of people will help us to further tackle this issue.

“Last weekend officers used these dispersal powers and we saw a reduction in reports of anti-social behaviour in the targeted area. We hope to continue this over the coming weekend.”

Police have also requested residents to report any anti-social behaviour by calling 101 or visiting www.hampshire.police.uk. If a crime is in progress, phone 999.