GANGS of rowdy revellers will be banished from nightlife hotspots as police launch a crackdown on anti-social behaviour in Southampton.

Officers have joined forces with city council bosses in a bid to slash the number of anti-social behaviour incidents in and around Bedford Place and London Road with the threat of a fine or even imprisonment.

From Friday a dispersal order will be implemented in designated areas to tackle crowds of clubbers who fail to head home from the city’s bars and nightclubs peacefully.

But residents whose lives have been blighted by booze-fuelled noise nuisance fear that the orders do not stretch far enough and will just push trouble-makers into nearby residential streets.

The order allows officers and PCSOs to tell a group of two or more people to leave the area, to force those who do not live in the area to stay away for 24 hours and send home anyone aged under 16 who is not with an adult. Anyone who violates the order could face up to three months in prison or a fine of up to £2,500.

Police say the action comes in response to complaints made by residents and businesses about continued antisocial behaviour in the area, which is popular with the city’s student population. The new order will run until July 31 and it will include five council car parks in Grosvenor Square, Bedford Place, East-gate Street, West Park Road and The Marlands.

Sector Inspector Ryan Bartlett said: “This area of the city is a popular location for the city’s night-time economy and attracts a significant number of people throughout the week and at weekends.

“Disappointingly a minority few of these people fail to conduct themselves properly which impacts on others. By implementing the dispersal order it provides us with alternative powers to deal with those individuals.”

The initiative comes just three months after police launched Operation Shush that saw boozed-up revellers threatened with an £80 on-the-spot fine if caught making a nuisance in the Polygon area.

Just two fines were handed out by officers during the course of the two-month operation. Lorraine Barter, who has lived in Harborough Road for 25 years and is a member of local campaign group Residents Action, said: “The fact that the police are doing this shows that the situation must have been escalating badly in recent years.

“While we do welcome the dispersal order, it is not going to have any effect on the noise for those residents living in Henstead Road and Kenilworth Road. The orders will get people out of the hotspot, well-lit areas but it is not going to make the slightest difference to people suffering from the noise as these groups make their way home.”