YOBS intimidating elderly residents, damaging homes and trespassing on private property sparked tough police powers on Canvey.

Essex Police launched a dispersal order – giving police power to move on large groups of youths or arrest them if they refused – on the island yesterday after a number of reports of anti-social behaviour from residents.

The dispersal order was put in place to cover a number of roads, including Lionel Road, Thelma Avenue and Waarem Avenue.

Police confirmed that residents had reported abusive behaviour, intimidation of elderly residents, criminal damage to properties, youths riding bicycles in an anti-social manner, trespassing and roof tiles being smashed.

Former councillor Ray Howard MBE slammed youngsters involved and praised police for launching the dispersal order following the reports.

He said: “It is appalling to hear these reports.

“I do get upset when I hear about this kind of behaviour as it is just not acceptable at all. It is not fair on residents, especially elderly people that live alone.

“It is so frightening when you have behaviour like this.

“It is not nice, and we shouldn’t be having this.

“I feel confidence for the police for being alert and putting this in place to try and deal with it.”

The dispersal order was in place from 3pm yesterday until 1am this morning.

Police confirmed the dispersal order was issued in a bid to “reduce disruption to residents” after people living in the island reported feeling “unsafe”.

As the dispersal order was launched yesterday, Insp David Kealy said: “No-one should feel unsafe or worried when they are walking to and from their home.

“This order gives officers the power to direct people suspected of causing anti-social behaviour to leave the area or face arrest.

“We are committed to tackle this kind of issue and ensure you can go about your daily life feeling safe and secure in your community.

“If you have any concerns, please speak to an officer.”