POLICE are now using powers to ban known offenders from parts of Darlington including shops, streets and even entire areas of the town.

Officers are using Exclusion Orders that are issued by a court upon a criminal conviction and are part of a wider sentencing program.

It is hoped their use will bring down retail crime by reducing the opportunities for offenders to shoplift.

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The orders can range from a three month period to up to three years and if the offender breaches it, they risk a further appearance at court for the original offence.

This could then lead to a prison sentence.

The court also has the power to alter the conditions of the Exclusion Order which can include imposing further conditions and extending the period of time the order is valid for.

A number of applications have recently been made by officers against defendants currently progressing through the criminal justice system.

The first successful application made by Darlington Police and its partner agencies was for a prolific shoplifter who has amassed 13 separate convictions this year alone for shoplifting.

Other methods used by the courts to prevent shoplifters re-offending include electronically tagged curfews, community work and fines.