It's 9.01pm in Bangor. Do you know where your children are? (If not, they might be locked up)

Charlie Cooper reports from the city centre where a curfew banning under-16s after dark began last night

It is late afternoon in Bangor, North Wales, and a group of seven teenagers is wandering down to the city centre. Spared lessons because of a teacher- training day, they have have been doing what young people tend to do on a day off school – not much.

Too young to go for a pint, too old to hang around with their parents, the friends have so far visited the shops, sat in the park and talked about the football. The only unusual thing about their day is that they have to be off the streets by 9pm – or risk arrest.

Last night a curfew came into force in the centre of Bangor that bans under- 16s from being in the area without an adult.

It is the first order of its kind to cover an entire city centre in the UK and has already been condemned by human rights groups who have labelled it more North Korea than North Wales.

Ned, 13, and his friends don't look much like a threat to the social fabric of Bangor. "It's just stereotyping," he says. "There are bad areas and a few bad young people, but we're not all like that." His friend Sam, also 13, is somewhat more direct. "It's stupid," he said.

Best known for its large university and picturesque setting, Bangor, nestled between the mountains and the sea in the county of Gwynedd, is an unlikely setting for a battle over civil liberties.

But according to Gwynedd Council and North Wales police, the problem of antisocial behaviour in the city has become so severe that a draconian new dispersal order is necessary.

The order, which covers the cathedral grounds, the university and the main high street, came into effect yesterday and will last for six months.

As well as banning under-16s from the area between 9pm and 6am, it also gives police the power to order groups of two or more people of any age to leave the area. Failure to comply could carry a £2,500 fine or a three-month jail sentence.

The professed purpose of the curfew and dispersal order is to allow people to "enjoy their lives without being intimidated or harassed", but opinions differ among locals about quite how intimidating a place Bangor is.

"The last time I walked down the high street at night I was quite nervous," said Beryl Owen, 70, a pensioner who works in a charity shop in the city. "There were crowds of young people and you see that some of them have cans of drink in their hands. But this is a bit severe. I have a grandson of that age and I wouldn't like to thing that he'd be breaking the law by being out on the streets after 9pm. And they are out and about at that age these days."

Elaine Smith, 47, a shop manager with two sons aged over 16, was more supportive.

"Children shouldn't be out at that time of night – what would they be doing? I don't come down to the centre in the evening. I've not felt intimidated while living here but they do make a mess of the benches, writing their names on things."

The Local Government Association, which represents local authorities in all parts of the UK, says that this is the first such curfew it has heard of.

Inspector Simon Barrasford of North Wales Police said dispersal orders were "an effective weapon against antisocial behaviour". Police claim that Bangor has "persistent problems" of intimidation and harassment.

"Many people are working very hard to improve and regenerate the city centre as well as just wanting to enjoy their daily lives without being intimidated or harassed," he said. "Drinking in public has an adverse effect not only on visitors' perception but also on the quality of life of residents."

But not everyone agrees. David Jones MP, a Wales minister in the Coalition Government, is concerned that the law could be "discriminating against a large sector of the public".

Nick Pickles, director of the human rights watchdog Big Brother Watch, called the plan "madness".

"Criminalising every young person in Bangor – without any need for them to be engaged in any wrongdoing – is an unwarranted intrusion on to the civil liberties of thousands of perfectly law- abiding young people," he said.

Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments