Police target gangs in Barking Park

Police have set up a dispersal zone in Barking Park to crack down on the anti-social behaviour that has taken hold.

The order will force groups of people to steer clear of the Victorian open space and surrounding streets after being lobbied by the Friends of Barking Park.

There have been reports of a gang congregating in the centre of the Longbridge Road park, near the exotic tree section, since the summer.

Friend Tony Richards, 73, said: “They seem to think a section of the park belongs to them.”

Another park user added: “We’ve had reports they’ve taken money from children.

“Their main message is it’s their territory. It’s very childish.”

A police spokeswoman said. “We want our parks to be safe and well used.

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“It is only where people are behaving in a criminal or disorderly way that police will step in to enforce the dispersal zone.”

Communities cabinet member Cllr Jeanne Alexander said: “People are telling us that they do not feel safe in our parks and open spaces particularly where they see large groups gathering.

“This dispersal order gives the team, which comprises a Met police sergeant and five PCs additional powers to deal with this issue.”

The police spokeswoman added: “This action has been taken following complaints from local residents and park users of harassment, alarm and distress being caused by disorder and anti-social behaviour.”