POLICE are being given powers to move on gatherings of just two people during the Olympic Games period.

The dispersal order zone, which covers almost all of Leytonstone to the east of the A12, Wanstead Flats and Blake Hall Road, is being introduce at 12 noon tomorrow (Tuesday June 26).

Under the new regulations, officers will be able to order groups of two or more people suspected of carrying out anti-social behaviour to leave the area for 24 hours.

Youngsters age under 16 caught in the zone after 9pm will also potentially be escorted home by officers if they are not accompanied by an adult.

The order will expire on Tuesday November 20.

It comes after police said in January that a gang were using the cover of Wanstead Flats to carry out a spate of muggings in the region.

Police say that such zones help cut crime but critics believe the orders move anti-social behaviour to other neighbouring areas instead.

A Met spokesman admitted that previous dispersal orders in the area had transferred problems to other areas, but said the force hoped it would not happen this time.

He said: "Dispersal zones have been used widely across Waltham Forest to address anti-social behaviour.

"The Olympics was a consideration for the dispersal zone but this is not the primary reason for the implementation of the zone.

"Local residents and businesses have supported this initiative and both Waltham Forest and Redbridge Police have worked in partnership with the local authority to address concerns about anti-social behaviour in these areas.

"A previous dispersal zone had displaced anti-social behaviour to neighbouring wards...[so] we hope to tackle this problem by enforcing cross-border dispersal zones."

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