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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Tube gangs tackled by new powers
Tube train
British Transport Police has said youths have caused disruption
Growing numbers of gangs who intimidate passengers on London Underground will be tackled by new police powers.

Services on the District Line were disrupted recently after youths rode bikes along Tube platforms and an air pistol was fired into a carriage.

Passengers and staff have been attacked and toilets damaged on the network.

Under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, convictions can carry a 2,500 fine or a three-month prison sentence and police can order youths to disperse.

In recent weeks there have been 37 arrests and 300 spot checks on youths.

'Clampdown on behaviour'

The new powers will be used in Tube stations on the eastern section of the District Line, which have already been identified by police as having problems.

Ch Supt Paul Crowther, from British Transport Police, told BBC London that an officer can order anyone suspected of causing anti-social behaviour to move on.

"We've carried out extensive research into problems on this particular stretch of the District Line and we've put together a package that justifies why we need the powers," he said.

"We've seen youths throw bricks at trains, a member of staff threatened by ticket touts and a passenger reporting three people on a train with a large knife slashing seats.

"Officers will use their discretion. But when you see the behaviour and how intimidating it is to passengers and staff, there's a real effect on people. We will get a clampdown on this behaviour."

Police will also be able to escort home children aged under 16 causing problems on the Tube.

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