OFFENDERS who continue to flout an order which bans antisocial behaviour including spice abuse and begging in Barnsley town centre run the risk of prosecution, police have warned.

A three-year public space protection order (PSPO) was brought in across the town centre and some residential streets in 2016 due to rising concerns with antisocial behaviour, with a particular focus on Barnsley Interchange.

Following a 40-day consultation held earlier this year, a new agreement was drawn up to include more town centre streets and it came back into force at the end of March.

In its first week, six offenders were removed from the area while more than 30 offenders have been effectively banned from entering the centre since, according to a progress report.

It said: “The town centre’s officers have been making good use of the renewed PSPO. The 24-hour dispersals have been issued and four fixed penalty notices have been issued for breaches of the initial dispersal.

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“Further to this two community protection notices (CPNs) have been issued to repeat offenders of antisocial behaviour in the town centre.

“These allow officers to highlight specific behaviours that are affecting others. If the individuals continue to behave in the same manner they will commit a criminal offence and can be prosecuted.

“This is another one of the tools we are actively using against those that are causing ongoing problems in the town centre.”

Areas such as Peel Street, Midland Street, Peel Square, Wellington Street, Eldon Street, Race Street, Peel Parade and Sackville Street - all of which were included before - were retained in the PSPO zone while Market Hill and County Way were added as a result of the public’s input.

Barnsley Interchange was the primary focus of the initial order and more than 500 dispersal notices across the town centre were issued in the following three years, with about a third of those coming from the transport hub.

Antisocial behaviour figures, according to Barnsley Council, were slashed by 40 per centre but rising concerns with begging and spice abuse - which leaves users unconscious and often in a ‘zombie-like’ state - have been included in the revised order.

Inspector Julie Mitchell said: “One of the key priorities when the team first set up was to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour in and around the Barnsley Interchange.

“The public were reporting being intimidated by large groups of younger people, some of whom were committing criminal offences of robbery, theft, criminal damage and public order offences.

“Working closely with the youth offending team, we arrested a number ringleaders, resulting in custodial sentences for some. These were followed up with criminal behaviour orders to control their behaviour when released.

“This action sent a clear message to other young people who were on the fringes of being involved, and by informing their parents of the risks, the large groups were dispersed and found more productive activities to engage in.

“The interchange continues to enjoy very low levels of crime and antisocial behaviour reports, as spontaneous incidents of poor behaviour are dealt with quickly and effectively by the town centre team.”

Cabinet spokesman Coun Jenny Platts added: “We all want to have a town centre which is vibrant, safe and welcoming. The PSPO continues to be an important tool in making that a reality but we also want to ensure that those in need are able to access the relevant support services.

“We are working with partners and voluntary organisations to focus our resources on helping the people most in need, while at the same time continuing to address antisocial behaviour.”