Police invoke dispersal order after youths attack Lancashire beauty spot

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Police have issued a warning to visitors to the Ribble Valley this weekend after trouble flared at a local beauty spot.

Officers say around 150 young people descended on Whalley Abbey last weekend, caused criminal damage to the historic ruins and harassed the local vicar and his wife as well as families with children.

Police were assaulted when they tried to move the group on. So a Section 34 Dispersal Order has been put in place in Whalley from 6pm tonight (Friday) until 6pm on Sunday.

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The order includes parts of the town centre following reports of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage to premises after pubs and bars closed.

The area of Whalley covered by the dispersal order.The area of Whalley covered by the dispersal order.
The area of Whalley covered by the dispersal order.

This order is part of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act and allows police to disperse people from within a mapped area, who they believe are there to cause disorder and unrest in the area.

T/Chief Inspector for Pendle and the Ribble Valley, Martyn Holt said: “This sort of behaviour is not welcome and will not be tolerated in our community.

"Whalley Abbey is a beautiful place where many come to find respite, and others enjoy family picnics and learning about the ancient history of these ruins.

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"Visitors and residents to this beauty spot do not deserve the harassment and abuse that they have been subjected to, and we will, and are currently dealing with some of those responsible.

"We are also aware of a number of vehicles dropping kids off to the area, and rest assured we have the number plates of those and are making enquiries.

“Some of our elderly and more vulnerable residents are reporting that they feel worried to leave their homes after sun-down, and I will not allow this behaviour to continue; people deserve to feel safe, and we will continue to work with partners to tackle the issues.

“We believe that people may be travelling in from other areas of the county, so a policing presence on the train lines will be seen, as well as an increased policing presence over the weekend in Whalley. We hope this provides reassurance to our community, but also sends a strong message that we will deal with those causing issues robustly.

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"We would ask that anyone who may have information about the above or those involved to please report it online to us by visiting www.lancashire.police.uk/doitonline quoting log 1502 of 22 August.

"We know sometimes you might have information, but are worried about speaking to us. You can contact independent charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111 or by visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org