THE first person has been arrested for drunken behaviour in Basildon town centre under tough new dispersal powers.

Police arrested the 52-year-old, from Basildon, outside Iceland, near the bus station at 1.25pm yesterday.

The man had previously been moved on by police for drunken behaviour and was warned he would be arrested if he returned to the shopping centre within 24 hours, under new dispersal powers introduced a week ago.

A police spokeswoman said: ”We were called to complaints about drunken behaviour outside some shops near the bus station.”

It is understood three other people have been given official warnings to stay away from the town centre for 24 hours, following drunken behaviour.

The dispersal order covers the whole of Basildon town centre and gives police permission to disperse groups of two or more people causing antisocial behaviour.

It will only be enforced for a few weeks, until a more permanent Designated Public Place Order comes into effect.

This cannot be introduced until a consultation has been carried out to check there is sufficient public demand for the scheme.

If it goes through, anyone found drinking alcohol in the town centre could be asked to stop, or have their drink confiscated.

Failure to comply with the request could result in arrest and a maximum £500 fine.

The new powers are being introduced in response to complaints about groups of drunks intimidating other people in the town, particularly at St Martin’s Square, the Towngate Theatre and Basildon Library.

Frank Tomlin, Basildon councillor responsible for community safety, said: “It’s excellent news that someone has been arrested, as it shows we are finally starting to make progress on this difficult issue.

“The police are being given these special powers to crack down on nuisance drunks and they are obviously starting to use them.”