There have been a number of reports of anti-social behaviour on the waterfront in recent weeks, and together with our partners, Merseyside Police shares the determination of residents, businesses and visitors to ensure it is a public space that can be safely enjoyed by all.
Large numbers of people have attended the waterfront during this period of hot weather and enjoyed the fantastic facilities on offer.
However, reports of criminal behaviour by a small minority have been made by people living, working and visiting the area. They have ranged from a stabbing, fighting, threats and abuse being directed at staff and customers of an attraction in Duke’s Dock, nitrous oxide canisters thrown at staff and people using the facility, objects thrown at canal boats, children being pushed into the water and bicycles being thrown into the docks.
On a number of occasions, groups of youths involved in this behaviour have left upon the arrival of police officers and more recently, youths have thrown bottles at officers and verbally abused them.
Liverpool city centre Inspector Charlotte Irlam said: “I want to make it absolutely clear – people visiting the docks area to enjoy the sunshine and facilities should not be subjected to violence, intimidation and fear.
“Merseyside Police will not tolerate people intent on spoiling the fun for others, and will take action to stop them.
“We have attended the site a number of times in response to reports, and have made arrests and directed others causing trouble to leave the area. In order to protect people of all ages wishing to enjoy the area safely, we have also introduced Dispersal Zones.
“The orders have ensured a visible police presence and officers being on hand to deal promptly with any incidents. They have given police officers and police community support traffic officers powers to direct only those people they suspect are causing or likely to cause crime, nuisance or anti-social behaviour to leave the area and not return for up to 48 hours. This week we have issued 13 such dispersal notices.
“Dispersal zones are not brought in to completely clear an area of people. Our officers do not seek to target anyone, young or old, who is in the area covered by the dispersal zone and is acting responsibly - quite the opposite. These orders are brought in to ensure those people can enjoy the area without their experience being marred by the anti-social and criminal behaviour of a few.
"Neither are dispersal zones used in isolation. Officers from across the Force work in partnership to identify, intervene and support young people who may be at risk of becoming involved in anti-social behaviour or crime, to benefit them and the communities in which they live."
A further Dispersal Zone has been introduced on the waterfront from 4pm today (Thursday 22 July) until 2am tomorrow following further reports, including teenage males dragging members of the public off paddleboards and jumping into customer's boats. It covers the area bounded by the River Mersey, St Nicholas Place, Georges Dock Gates, The Strand, Wapping, Chaloner Street, Sefton Street, Brunswick Way and back to the The River Mersey. (see image)
Insp Irlam added: “Many of those entering into the water at the docks unsupervised put their own safety and the safety of others at risk. We have also had incidents of innocent members of the public being pushed into the water against their will.
“Our officers turn up to work every day to protect all people in Merseyside from harm, and any efforts to prevent this behaviour seek to protect the people engaged in anti-social behaviour as well as others.
“In the last week across the country eight people have died swimming in open water, and we will do everything in our power to make sure those tragedies are not repeated here in Liverpool city centre.
“This is a vibrant and busy area that has been enjoyed by generations of people from Merseyside, and has proved an extremely popular tourist destination for people from across the world.
“Whether our waterfront has World Heritage status or not, it is a hugely important part of our heritage, and its architecture, bars, restaurants and hotels have welcomed visitors for many years.
“I hope they will continue to do so, and police and our partners are redoubling our efforts to make sure that everyone who visits the waterfront goes away telling people how great it can be.”
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) are visiting water risk areas across the region over next few days, ahead of Drowning Awareness Day on Sunday.
MFRS Area Manager Gary Oakford said: "We fully support our Police colleagues in their efforts to stop anti-social behaviour and after the recent tragedies we have seen across the UK and here in Merseyside we are particularly concerned about reports of people jumping in and even pushing others into the water.
"This is not a swimming pool - there are serious dangers of cold water shock, hidden dangers beneath the surface and contaminants within the water than can make you extremely ill.
"Do not put your own or others’ lives at risk- stay out of the water and show respect for everyone."
Liverpool’s Cabinet Member for neighbourhoods, Councillor Abdul Qadir, added: “Our waterfront is always a popular attraction, particularly when the sun is shining, but it’s important to remember as well as visitors, there are a lot of residents living in and around the area so anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.
"We are working with our partners to engage with young people and we support decisions made by Merseyside Police to tackle the problem.”