DRUNKEN troublemakers will be driven out of Worcester city centre as police impose a 'zero tolerance' dispersal order which will come into force this weekend.

Police in Worcester will use powers granted to them under section 35 of the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 to help keep people safe and prevent disorder over the busy weekend before Christmas. West Mercia Police may use it again if it proves successful. Those who ignore the order can be arrested for breach and Worcester's police commander hopes the order will free up officers to deal with other crimes across south Worcestershire.

The dispersal order, which is designed to help police deal with disorder and antisocial behaviour, will be in place in the area of the city centre known as The Cross, including Angel Street and Angel Place. The area has been identified as a problem area for antisocial and drunken behaviour and the order means that people will not be allowed to congregate in this area and give police the power to ask people to leave.

This action will form part of the Christmas Presence Operation, which will see extra officers on the street across the whole of the West Mercia policing area this weekend and other nights over Christmas.

West Mercia and Warwickshire Police will also be issuing fines from £60 up for people causing trouble after having too much to drink.

Superintendent Kevin Purcell, who described the dispersal order as a 'zero tolerance' measure, said: “This weekend looks set to be one of the busiest of the year for pubs and clubs in the city. Our main priority this weekend is to keep people safe and ensure as many people as possible enjoy their festive night out. However, we are sending out a very clear message that people intent on getting involved in trouble this weekend will not be welcome in Worcester. We will deal swiftly and decisively with anyone who does.

“We have identified The Cross area of the city as being a hotspot for disorder and this is why we have taken the decision to put this dispersal order in place. People are more than welcome to use the pubs, clubs and food outlets in the area. However, once they leave these premises we will politely ask them to move on quickly."

He said problems had included assaults, low level criminal damage, disorder, general misbehaviour with residents and shops having to pick up the repairs next morning. Around 60 per cent of incidents in Worcester around alcohol and disorder take place in the area covered by the order. Supt Purcell warned that it was a criminal offence to not leave when asked to do so and those who refused to leave could be arrested. Supt Purcell said: "I'm sure this will make a significant difference. If it does we will be using it regularly on busy nights in Worcester. Some people consider that this may move the problem on to a different location. My own experience supported by other police forces disperses them as a problem. Our experience is they do not move to another location to become a problem there. They are far more likely to go home."

Chief Inspector David Gardner said police had a number of penalties at their disposal to deal with drunkenness.

“We want people to go out and have a few drinks and we want people to have a good time.

“But we also want people to consider their limits and know when to call it a day.”