THE war on booze-fuelled crime in Runcorn and Widnes has received a boost with the introduction of tough new police powers to disperse troublemakers.
Officers can order anyone they suspect is contributing to alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour to leave an area and ban them from returning to the location within 48 hours.
The measures mean police no longer have to seek court permission to break up crowds and gangs, but can act immediately.
The powers can be brought into play against people over 16 who have gathered in a public place to consume alcohol.
Officers can also specify the manner in which they must leave the area and the route which they must take.
Offenders who fail to comply with a 'direction to leave' could land themselves with fines up to £2,500.
Peter Fahy, Cheshire's chief constable, said: 'This is a useful new power which will assist in reducing the impact of anti-social behaviour particularly in those problem areas identified by local residents.
'It only applies when alcohol is a factor and for people over the age of 16.
'We will never solve this problem by legislation alone and that is why a wider strategy to reduce alcohol abuse and strengthen parental responsibility is so important.
'The new power will be a welcome addition to the ArcAngel standards-based approach which Cheshire police and its partners are implementing to challenge society's tolerance that young people drinking on the street is part of British culture.'