STREET drinkers who have made life a misery for suburban residents will have their activities curtailed by a tough new order which will see fines of up to £500 imposed for consuming alcohol in public.
A consultation carried out by police and licencing bosses uncovered serious community concerns about the issue, with residents complaining of people drinking in the streets at all hours of the day.
The study found that in just over a year, more than 820 incidents of drink-related anti-social behaviour were recorded in the Lower Wheatley area of Doncaster, with many more thought to go unreported.
In a bid to clamp down on the increasing problem, plans for a so-called Designated Public Place Order, or DPPO, have been drawn up, which will mean that police can force people to stop drinking if caught.
A report to Doncaster Council, which must formally approve the order before it is enforced, says the DPPO will be a “key tool in alleviating the problems caused by anti-social drinking within the area”.
Its introduction has been supported by local residents who have attended meetings with the police and one resident quoted in the report reveals the impact street drinkers are having on ordinary people.
The resident says: “Our area has been blighted by many problems over the 20 years or more we have lived here and now we have an influx of people who feel the need to constantly walk and drive around our area carrying a tin of alcohol.
“We feel this has caused a huge rise in anti-social behaviour. It makes the area uncomfortable to walk around in and has led to our daughter having to endure intimidatino on many occasions.
“We fully agree with any possibility of a designated public place order within the area.”
Another resident adds: “Thank you for addressinf such an issue. We do not want our 12-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy thisnk that it is normal to drink alcohol at any time and on the street.”
Local authorities were given powers to enforce DPPOs under section 13 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, but they can only be imposed if nuisance or disorder is being caused.
Supporting the introduction of the order, police officers say in the report: “Anti-social drinking in public places can cause disorder and nuisance ans can be extremely intimidating to members of the public.
“It can also contribute to the general degradation of a public space and contribute to driving up people’s fear of crime. There are also strong links between alcohol misuse and violence.
“In the Lower Wheatley neighbourhood there is evidence that much of the crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour is drink-related.
“Prior to the consideration of seeking a Designated Public Place Order the Safer Neighbourhood Tea, has instigated various strategies to reduce the number of drink related anti-social behaviour incidents.”
Officers say they have already tried preventative work with young people and their parents through the use of anti-social behaviour letters, acceptable behaviour contracts and an increased police presence.
But they will tell councillors at a meeting next week, that although these have had some effect, more hard-hitting powers are now required to tackle the hard-core of continuing offenders.
If approved offenders who refuse to stop drinking will be given an £80 on the spot fine, or will be arrested and taken to court where they could face a £500 penalty.
The report continues: “A DPPO would assist the police’s central safer neighbourhood team by providing additional powers to deal with persistent drinking.
“It will also give a clear message that alcohol related anti-social behaviour is unacceptable and reduce the dear of crime and imrpove the quality of life for residents and for visitors.
“The order’s success will depend on how well the powers are enforced and its impact on resident perception.
“It is proposed that its effectiveness is reviewed after six months to gauge its effect on residents’ quality of life.”