Wandsworth Council is set to employ new legal powers that give additional support to the police’s efforts in tackling problem street drinkers.
Councillors are expected to approve the use of Designated Public Place Orders (DPPO) in the borough to tackle specific problems in clearly defined areas.
A DPPO is designed to tackle nuisance, annoyance and disorder caused by the consumption of alcohol in public places by giving police constables and community support officers additional powers to prevent street drinkers from disturbing residents and engaging in anti-social behaviour.
Within a clearly defined zone where a DPPO is in force officers have the authority to stop people drinking in a public place and if necessary confiscate any alcohol in their possession. Anyone who fails to comply would be guilty of an offence and could face an on-the spot fine or prosecution in the magistrates court.
A DPPO would only be made if there was sufficient evidence that residents or businesses were suffering nuisance from street drinking and that other remedies were insufficient or unable to tackle the problem.
The council’s community safety spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “It is important that the police are able to call upon all the powers that have been made available by Parliament to combat problem street drinkers if other solutions are not proving effective.
“The council is keen to do all it can to support the police in tackling this difficult issue. That is why we are obtaining authorisation to set up DPPOs if the police request them.
“Residents can rest assured that these powers will only ever be used sparingly and in carefully considered circumstances and only for limited periods. There would also be widespread public consultation for each individual application.
“This would not be a drinking ban on members of the public who are engaged in peaceful and harmless behaviour and who are not causing disturbance or annoyance to others.
“These powers would be specifically targeted against groups that are responsible for anti-social activity in their neighbourhoods.
“The police would be focusing their efforts on those individuals who engage in physical and verbal abuse, harassment, noise disturbance and urinating in the streets.
“At the same time as these law enforcement measures were being stepped up we would also be renewing efforts to enrol people in alcohol treatment programmes. This would be a carrot and stick approach because it is highly unlikely that some hardcore street drinkers would respond to a health service intervention without the extra leverage from tougher enforcement action.
“We believe this combination of carrot and stick would bring welcome relief to local residents who are suffering from the problems associated with public drunkenness and disorder.”
Councillors on the General Purposes Committee will be asked to approve the utilisation of these new powers at their meeting tomorrow night (Thursday January 26th).
January 25, 2012