Drink seizure power could be extended throughout borough

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POLICE could soon have the power to seize alcohol from people drinking on any street throughout the whole borough of Rotherham, under new legislation set to be considered by the council.

Following a request from the Safer Rotherham Partnership’s violent crime priority group, Rotherham Council will consider becoming only the second authority in Yorkshire to introduce a Designated Public Place Order (DPPO) covering the entire borough.

Such orders usually cover only town centres, or areas where there is considered to be a problem with “nuisance” drinkers.

DPPOs are made under discretionary powers given to councils by the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (CJPA), and give both police and police community support officers the power to confiscate alcohol – including unopened containers – from anyone deemed to be causing “nuisance, annoyance or disorder”.

If they refuse to comply, the individual can then be arrested.

Under Home Office guidance, to be able to legally enforce a DPPO a council needs to be satisfied that the order is “justified in relation to any particular public place, by reference to past problems of alcohol related crime or disorder or anti-social behaviour in that place”.

At present, such orders are in place in Rotherham town centre and in Wath-upon-Dearne.

In a report set to go before a council meeting in Rotherham today, neighbourhood crime and justice manager Steve Parry says that a borough-wide DPPO would be disproportionate and should not be adopted by Rotherham Council.

Mr Parry’s report says: “From the current evidential base, whilst recognising the link between alcohol and anti-social behaviour and other crimes, it is difficult to prove that it is the actual drinking of alcohol in public places that is the main cause of anti-social behaviour, compared to home and licensed premises consumption.

“That being said, there are pockets in the borough where incidents and perceptions of anti-social behaviour have shown to be linked to the drinking of alcohol in public areas where targeted action is, and has been taken – such as DPPOs in the town centre and Wath.

“It is, in practice, never going to be the case that a local authority will have evidence of a history of alcohol-related crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour in every single public place included in a borough-wide order.

“However, a borough-wide order is being considered in order to address the problems of alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour and identified displacement activity.”

The report acknowledges that the Home Office advises councils to exercise caution when considering a borough-wide DPPO, as it needs to be “proportionate.”

Councils also need to ensure there is evidence of alcohol related problems in “each and every part of the borough” – potentially a problem in Rotherham, where some rural villages have no such complaints.

Mr Parry’s report says: “Recorded alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour incidents alone cannot in themselves justify the need for a borough-wide order.

“That being said, the same has been acknowledged in areas where such orders are already in place.

“The experience in these areas is that the public are very strongly in favour of such borough-wide orders, in that they send out a clear message of the intent of the police, council and partners to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder and are less confusing than having a number of individual areas where an order is in force.”

At present, Calderdale is the only council in Yorkshire to have introduced a borough-wide DPPO.

They are, however, in force in many London boroughs, as well as authorities including Burnley, Coventry, Portsmouth, Rugby, Southampton and Wigan.

The possibility of adopting a borough-wide DPPO will be discussed at a meeting at Rotherham Town Hall at 10am today.

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