NEW police powers are being credited with driving down anti-social behaviour in Verwood and Three Legged Cross by nearly a quarter.

Reports of anti-social behaviour have fallen by 24 per cent in the last year in the area, after police applied for permission to move anyone on who was causing a nuisance.

Between July 2013 and July 2014, the number of reported incidents of anti-social behaviour fell from 196 to 149 in the Potterne and Three Legged Cross area.

The number of calls about anti-social behaviour in Verwood town centre dropped from 445 to 338.

The order, under Section 30 of the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003, also allows police to take home any child aged under 16 who is found acting antisocially, or who is being affected by others behaving antisocially in a public place in the town, between 9pm and 6am.

A spike in reports of low-level crime and anti-social behaviour in 2013 prompted police and East Dorset District Council to introduce two new orders.

The orders allow officers to direct anyone behaving inappropriately from the area, and they are not allowed to return for 24 hours.

Sergeant Nikki Loftus of the Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “There had been a problem with anti-social behaviour in Verwood for a number of years.

“A core group of people were showing total disregard for the community in which they live and some robust policing was needed.

“I am pleased to say that this has had the desired effect and anti-social behaviour is no longer a problem in Verwood and the surrounding area.”

Dorset Police are working with partners including the Dorset Youth Service, Synergy Housing Association, and the East Dorset Community Safety Team, to ensure that young people are kept safe and not encouraged to get involved in anti-social behaviour.

The police would like to remind residents that repeat offenders will be visited by a police officer and a council member.

To report incidents of anti-social behaviour in your community, call 101.