Shop owners in a Yorkshire town will be penalised if they repeatedly sell super-strength alcohol to street drinkers in a UK first.
A new initiative of legal powers and advanced forensic technology - the first of its kind - has been launched in Bradford to combat the scourge of street-drinking in parts of the city centre.
The scheme, run in partnership with Bradford Business Improvement District (BID) and West Yorkshire Police has been launched in Oastler Square, where antisocial drinking has been the source of substantial public complaint.
It uses "SmartWater" forensic liquid to trace where troublesome drinkers are buying their super-strength alcohol - consisting of beer and lagers with more than 6.5 per cent - to help police educate retailers and work with them to cut off the supply.
SmartWater was first used in Wakefield, where it has reduced street drinking by 60 per cent, however Bradford's scheme is unique because it uses legal powers, that exist under antisocial behaviour legislation.
Several alcohol retailers have agreed to mark their stock with the SmartWater liquid which creates a unique forensic colour code for each business and a direct link back to the alcohol sold from its premises.
The liquid is virtually invisible in normal light but each colour glows distinctly under ultraviolet light.
City centre police officers are being equipped with UV detection lights so when street drinkers are found with the cans, they can trace where they were bought.
The police will offer advice and support to the retailer concerned to encourage them to help prevent crime and disorder.
If they don't comply, for the first time in the UK, officers will issue Community Protection Warnings (CPWs) to retailers followed by Community Protection Notices (CPNs) which, if breached, will lead to prosecution and severe penalties.
Inspector Pete Hall, who leads the Bradford City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “We are aware that disorderly street drinking is of concern to many people and the team is always proactive in tackling it.
“This new initiative is an important step forward in helping us to work closely with retailers to deter potential crime and nuisance.
"This is not about catching out retailers but it is important that we work together to tackle the source of these problems and prevent them from spreading.
“The fact that two retailers have already agreed to stop stocking higher-strength beers at all is a very encouraging start.
"We’re very pleased to be working with Bradford BID on this and we’re grateful for the support of businesses, through the BID, in providing the funding to make this happen."
The scheme will operate on a three-month trial before a decision is made whether to extend it further.
Ian Ward, chairman of Bradford BID, said: “Street drinking is a cause of great concern to both the public and businesses.
“It can lead to serious anti-social behaviour which creates a nuisance for visitors and intimidates shoppers, workers and residents who are forced to go out of their way to avoid it.
“It is a serious blight and we felt supporting this initiative by West Yorkshire Police and their city centre officers was a really effective way to get to grips with the problem.”