A DISPERSAL order has been imposed at a beauty spot near Winchester after reports of a public disorder.

The order, granted under section 34 of the anti-social behaviour crime and policing act 2014, allows for police community support officers (PCSOs) to direct a person to leave an area specified "if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that their behaviour has caused, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to members of the public".

Police can now tell groups of two or more people to leave Compton Lock and Hockley Link.

Chief Inspector Jon Turton authorised the order, which will run from 3pm today until the same time on Wednesday June 3.

The action, unusual for the Winchester area, is in response to a number of reports of anti-social behaviour caused by large groups of people.

Waine Lawton, chairman of Twyford Parish Council, said: "Over the course of last week, Compton Lock became a popular venue for youngsters to gather, ignore social distancing consumer alcohol and have a good time and not care a jot for social distancing nor taking their debris home.

"Many come from afar, Southampton, Basingstoke and even Surrey. Notwithstanding that police officers visited the lock almost every day, there were at least two nasty assaults reported and foul language is ever present.

"The water meadows is well-known as an exceptionally attractive area and many people like to walk along the Navigation Canal or across the fields on the footpaths. However, the residents of Twyford are fast becoming dismayed with these unpleasant gatherings where many who try to pass by feel intimidated by the loutish behaviour and lack of courtesy."

Mr Lawton also said that a significant amount of litter is left behind by some groups.

A group of volunteers from local villages have been helping to clear this up.

"This is causing distress to the users of the area who just want to have a relaxing time," said a Hampshire Constabulary spokesperson.

"Hockley Link is also becoming a safety concern, with people putting themselves at risk of injury by jumping into the water from concerning heights.

"The dispersal order gives officers the power to disperse any individual from the area who is involved in anti-social behaviour.

"High visibility patrols will continue to reassure the public and to deter large groups from congregating."

Anyone who witnesses anti-social behaviour or large gatherings is encouraged to call 101, or if a crime or incident is in progress, always call 999.