POLICE have launched a crackdown on young tearaways causing trouble on the streets of Loftus.

A month-long, multi-agency operation to implement a dispersal order in the town began on Monday.

Youths up to the age of 16 face being marched home to their parents if they are found causing problems or their behaviour causes fear among members of the public.

Gangs gathering on the streets who cause harassment, alarm and intimidation to others will be dispersed, and those found not to live in the area may be asked to leave and not return within a specific period. Those refusing to comply can be arrested.

Leaflets explaining the operation are being circulated in the area and officers will speak to people in the communities to explain what is going on.

Some residents have already been involved in the planning of the operation, which will run until November 8.

Insp Kevin Scott, who is leading the initiative, said: "Community concerns have sparked this operation because of the high levels of anti-social behaviour. I am determined that such behaviour will be drastically reduced.

"Let it be clear, law-abiding youths have nothing to fear from this order.

"My officers will act in a sensible manner, using this additional power only when necessary."

He warned that those youths who failed to take heed of the warnings would be dealt with firmly.

"We will be ensuring that extra officers will be available to deal with breaches of this law," he added.

Graham Watson, Redcar and Cleveland Council anti-social behaviour co-ordinator, said: "We fully support the implementation of the dispersal order in Loftus as part of our overall strategy of reducing anti-social behaviour in the borough.

"We will monitor its success and may well take it as a model for other parts of the borough."