Police tackle gangs of teens in Keynsham Bonfire Night clashes - and warn of repeat disturbances

November 06 2015

Police were forced to disperse large groups of teenagers from Keynsham last night (November 5), with officers saying they had information that more clashes were planned in future.

Police were forced to disperse large groups of teenagers from Keynsham last night (November 5), with officers saying they had information that more disturbances were planned in future.

Some passers-by estimated around 150 youngsters were involved in the disorder, which began in the Memorial Park area at around 7pm and included throwing fireworks.

Officers said students from rival schools were involved and warned that anyone taking part in future “gatherings” faced the risk of arrest and a criminal record, while appealing directly to parents.

Police used powers under section 35 of the Anti-social, Crime and Behaviour Act 2014 to deal with the disturbance.

Supt Peter Warren, the Force’s lead on anti-social behaviour, said: “We had intelligence to suggest there may be a disorder involving groups of teenagers from different schools in the local area.
“During the early evening, a large group began to gather with the intention to cause anti-social behaviour and fireworks were thrown.

“We responded proportionately and brought in extra resources to disperse the crowd and carry out high visibility patrols.

“No damage was caused and there were no arrests.

“We have information to suggest further gatherings may be planned and our message is very clear – if you choose to engage in anti-social behaviour or disorder you face a real risk of being arrested and ending up with a criminal record.

“We have neighbourhood officers in local schools today as a preventative measure to help us prevent a similar occurrence.

“We’re also appealing directly to parents to ensure they know where their children are and, if they’re attending events in Keynsham, to have conversations with them about the potentially damaging consequences of getting involved in disruptive or criminal behaviour.

“Tackling and preventing anti-social behaviour is one of our Force priorities and we will take all necessary measures, using all the powers and tools available to us, to ensure the Keynsham community does not have to endure any further disruption.”

Meanwhile, Keynsham councillor Alan Hale, who went to the town centre last night after being alerted to the trouble, said he was met by scenes “more readily identified” with a city centre.

Councillor Hale, who recently spoke of growing concerns over local policing levels and anti-social behaviour in the park and other hotspots at a town council meeting, has written to Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and to Bath and North East Somerset Council leaders to raise the issues.

He said: “It is clear that the continued reduction in police cover throughout the country cannot be sustained and that message needs to be put in the lap of the Home Secretary. I pointed out that it is equally important that the Government exercise a level of care to the officers who are out there. I pointed out that this town is growing beyond all proportion due to the Government’s wish to build everywhere and at the same time the population is growing, the police numbers are reducing.”