Affluent UK village becomes Dodge City as its overrun with gangs

Gangs of "intimidating youths" are turning an affluent UK village into "Dodge City" where old people are scared to leave their homes.

That is the view of a growing number of terrified residents in the leafy Liverpool suburb of Woolton, where marauding yobs have been committing assaults and setting off fireworks late at night.

Police have responded by introducing dispersal zones to try and tackle the anti-social behaviour, reports the Liverpool Echo.

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This gives officers special powers to move on people gathering in groups of more than two where anti-social behaviour is taking place and to take the names and addresses of the youths.

But Professor John Ashton, who lives in Woolton and is a former regional public health director, believes the situation is getting worse.

He said: "Last weekend hit a new low for the quality of life for those of us living in the heart of our beautiful village. The increasing problem of listless young people marauding the streets, dominating the pavements with bikes and generally intimidating older and more vulnerable people has now hit a crescendo with fireworks added to the mix.

"There is a large proportion of older people living in the village and some of them are scared to leave their homes at the moment."

Professor Ashton has written letters to fellow residents asking for their views on the current situation and requesting that they contact local councillors and the police about the issues.

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One responded by likening Woolton to "living in Dodge City" and another said he had been assaulted recently by a group of youths who he had challenged for setting off fireworks and verbally abusing people in the village.

It is understood that 22 young people have been visited at home and spoken to in the presence of parents, served with anti-social behaviour warnings and told to stay away from Woolton.

If the same young people are identified during further dispersal orders then more action is likely to be taken.

Community Policing Inspector Neil Birkett said: "We know the distress that such reckless behaviour can cause, and the risk it carries to people in the street, so we’re committed to using all available powers to take action. This order is just one tactic we employ, and we’re also working closely with the local councillors, partners, businesses, residents, schools, parents and guardians to reduce such incidents.

"I want to stress that the dispersal zone is not designed to prevent young people, or anyone else, from meeting in the area this weekend. The dispersal zone is designed to give us the powers we need to deal effectively with anti-social behaviour and keep our community in Woolton safe."

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