GROUPS of “disgraceful” teenagers have been throwing stones at moving cars and verbally abusing people at a retail park.

Police put a 48 hour dispersal order in place, which expired at 6pm yesterday, to stop the children and teenagers congregating in the Ewood area of Blackburn in a bid to curtail the escalating anti-social behaviour.

Officers said a gang of up to 30 youths have been unruly near the McDonald’s over recent weeks and that behaviour has included fighting, swearing at staff and customers, and jumping in front of moving cars.

Over the last week there had been a rise in the “unacceptable behaviour” and police said the dispersal order, which gave them the power to move people on if they had or been suspected of planning to cause the public alarm, harassment or distress, had prevented any significant issues over the weekend.

Sgt Steve Dundon said officers would continue to patrol the area and work with partner agencies over the longer term to ensure the retail park remained free from anti-social behaviour.

Sgt Dundon said: “In the past few months and especially in the past week, there have been many reports of large groups of youths congregating in and around McDonald’s in the evenings, engaging in anti-social behaviour. Such behaviour has included shouting abusive language towards staff and members of the public, swearing, fighting, throwing items in the car park, banging on and throwing items at windows and jumping in front of moving vehicles.

“In the past week some of these youths have also attempted to open the door of a moving police vehicle and also run over the bonnet of a parked vehicle.

“This behaviour is unacceptable and cannot continue. Some evenings there can be up to 30 youths congregating in the area and whilst not all will be causing issues, it can be quite intimidating for members of the public who simply wish to use the restaurant and other businesses.

“The dispersal order gave the police the power to exclude anyone from the area if they had caused or were likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to members of the public.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s cabinet member for Children, Young People and Education Cllr Maureen Bateson, who represents the Ewood ward, said she would meet with ward colleagues and the authority’s young people’s services to see what action could be taken.

Citing issues with groups of young people congregating in Darwen and Mill Hill in Blackburn, Cllr Bateson said youth clubs had been set up at Ewood Park and the Youth Zone but were not being fully used.