A spike in street drinking, drug-taking and begging was the rationale behind police issuing a type of dispersal order often used to tackle gang violence.

A senior officer signed off the Section 35 order for Broadgreen, Fleming Way and Corporation Street last week.

Over 48 hours – between 2pm on Thursday, July 23, and the same time on Saturday, July 25 – anyone caught acting anti-socially in the area could be moved on by police officers or face arrest.

Wiltshire Police said the order had been signed off after a number of reports of poor behaviour from a small group who were drinking, taking illegal drugs and begging.

Insp Al Lumley said: “We take reports of these kinds of anti-social acts seriously; the general public shouldn’t have to be subjected to witnessing this sort of behaviour in a public place as they go about their daily business.

“The issue of this dispersal order was to focus on a small group of individuals who had come to our attention – allowing us to move these people on and so reduce the amount of anti-social behaviour in this part of town.”

In the end, just one person was formally issued with paperwork ordering them to move on. There were no arrests.

Section 35 dispersal orders have been used extensively by police forces up and down the country to tackle violence and disorder.

Under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, only officers of the rank of inspector or above have the power to sign-off the orders, which are often used in the wake of group violence.

The orders last for no more than 48 hours and must apply to a strictly defined geographical area.

Police officers have the power to tell someone found within that area to move on, provided they are over 10-years-old and in a public place. They can also seize property from that person.

Anyone who fails to comply with the order could be arrested and, if convicted, receive a sentence of up to three months imprisonment.

Earlier this year, a s35 was issued after a late-night car meet at the John Street multi-storey on the same night that Boris Johnson announced lockdown would be in force. In February, a dispersal order was signed following reports youths brawling in East Wichel.