A POLICE crackdown on anti-social teenagers in a town centre will be taken to the next level this weekend after police successfully applied for a dispersal order.

The order gives officers the power to disperse anyone acting in an anti-social manner in Accrington town centre in a 48-hour period.

Anyone who refuses to move can be arrested and prosecuted.

The order, which starts on Friday evening and lasts until Sunday evening, comes as police have seen an escalation in 'unacceptable' behaviour from gangs of youngsters — as young as 11 — going on into the early hours of the morning.

The parents of the worst offenders are also set to receive community penalty warning.

PC Anna Gavela has warned parents of anti-social youngsters to keep an eye on their children and said they will be liable for the costs of any prosecution and fines.

PC Gavela said: "During the past few months Accrington has seen increasing problems with youths aged 11 to 16 acting in an unacceptable manner in Accrington into the early hours of the morning. The vicinity of McDonald's and the Vue cinema has been particularly badly affected, to the extent that it is starting to affect trade.

"We have spoken informally to the parents of some of the youths involved, and also sent letters to them politely requesting that they take more responsibility for their children's conduct, however the problem has continued to escalate.

"Anyone found to be breaching the terms of a dispersal order can be arrested and prosecuted.

"Parents of youth offenders will be held liable for any financial costs, such as court costs, arising from any prosecutions. Additionally, the police in conjunction with Hyndburn Borough Council are in the process of issuing community penalty warnings to parents of the worst-behaved youths, detailing their responsibilities in respect of their children.

"We would urge parents to be aware of where their children are and who they are associating with, and to take action to stop them engaging in anti-social and criminal behaviour."

A dispersal order is a measure the police can use to deal with anti-social behaviour. The orders can be put in place for up to 48 hours and give officers the power to require anyone whose behaviour is causing a nuisance or distress to the public to leave a designated area or face being arrested.