Cambridge police have come under fire after posting a picture on social media that residents are calling “bang out of order”.
The force published an image appearing to show officers issuing a 48-hour dispersal order to a rough sleeper in Cambridge city centre.
In the post, it said the order was designed to tackle “ongoing anti-social behaviour including aggressive begging, street drinking and violence”.
The order gives officers the ability to remove individuals from the city centre during a certain time period.
But hundreds retaliated to the post on Facebook, with one accusing Cambridge police of “vilifying” people who are in a “desperate situation”.
Luke Braddick commented: “Aggressive is a word that’s attributed to threat. Asking for help is not that.
“Nothing but support should be directed at these people not vilifying them for being in an already desperate situation.”
Another, Annette Louise Pugh, said she was “horrified” at the social media post.
“Bang out of order putting pictures like this, this is actually a friend of mine and I’m horrified at this policing Cambridge page!” she said.
Put your postcode in the tool below to read more local news:
The Facebook post was published yesterday evening (April 13) by Policing Cambridge City, the official page run by Cambridgeshire Constabulary for its activities in Cambridge.
It linked to a press release on the force’s website, which explained that a 48-hour dispersal order was put in place in Cambridge city centre from 9am yesterday (April 13) to 9am tomorrow (April 15).
The order allows officers to tell individuals to leave a certain area if they suspect their behaviour is causing or will cause distress to the public.
But some commenters noted that the dispersal order was issued soon after shops reopened in Cambridge city centre.
Lolly Raffery said: “That’s right, push them out of the city centre, the shops are open now. God forbid those with money to burn in the Grand Arcade witness such depravity.”
Another, Giulia Bonetto, said: “Instead of helping these people, you just try to hide them because they ‘don’t look good’ in the city centre?”
Signing up to the CambridgeshireLive newsletter means you’ll receive our daily news email.
It couldn’t be simpler and it takes seconds – simply click here, enter your email address and follow the instructions.
You can also enter your address at the top of this page in the box below the picture on most desktop and mobile platforms.
Changed your mind? There’s an ‘unsubscribe’ button at the bottom of every newsletter we send out.
The police press release said it was targeting anti-social behaviour, particularly in Sidney Street, St Andrew’s Street and Mill Road.
Some commenters came to the defence of the person who they thought police officers appeared to be addressing in the Facebook image.
“I walked past that lady in the picture today. She was causing no trouble to anyone,” said Dave McKenny.
“Just a stark reminder of how inhuman and uncaring our society is. Massive police backfire. Whoopsy.”
Githa St.John-Ives added: “These people don’t need a visit from the police, they need hot meals, shelter and essential services like rest of us. Not cool Policing Cambridge City.”
Explaining the dispersal order in the original press release, Cambridge City Inspector Ed McNeil said: “We’ve seen an increase in anti-social behaviour and reports of violence in these areas.
“With footfall to the city increasing to almost pre-pandemic levels, we want to reduce the risk of crime and disorder and allow people visiting the city to go about their business without being harassed, alarmed or distressed.”
Cambridgeshire Police have been contacted for comment.