Skip to content

Street drinking rules are working

Boston's street drinking controls, introduced in January, have been judged a success.

Police and council officials say far fewer people are now consuming alcohol in the town centre and areas where the new rules apply.

More than 300 have been approached by police and all have readily given up their alcohol, fully aware of the Public Space Protection Order. Of those only 18 have reoffended within six months.

Insp Jim Manning said: "There has been a noticeable reduction in street drinking in the town centre itself, which is welcome. The purpose of this order was to remove street drinkers from the town centre and it looks like it is working.

"My officers have confiscated alcohol from more than 300 street drinkers since the beginning of the year. All drinkers have willingly obliged and many are immediately apologetic for breaking the rules."

Insp Manning said he still wanted people to report street drinking by calling 101. Not only could offenders be dealt with, but it would also help build a picture of where the biggest trouble spots might still be.

Cllr Stephen Woodliffe, Boston Borough Council's portfolio holder for community safety, said: "The key positive outcome so far is that we haven't had to issue any fines for non-compliance to a request from an authorised officer to stop drinking alcohol within the PSPO. This is a massive success. Policing teams have the power to act, which they have, and everyone so far adheres to their requests, what a result."

Anyone failing to stop drinking alcohol, when requested to do so by a police officer, could be fined up to £500.

The new rules introduced at the start of the year removed the need for street drinking of alcohol to be combined with an element of anti-social behaviour before police could take action.

Jen Moore, one of the council's environmental enforcement team, said: "I have approached street drinkers I have seen and politely told them they should not be doing that. They have just as politely apologised and immediately put their can in a litter bin without argument. This shows that people generally are aware of the rules and admit to a fair cop."

The council's street cleaning team has reported reduced levels of alcohol-related litter in the town centre.

Boston was the first town in the country to make use of the new PSPO. Figures to date show that 246 warning letters have been sent out. Of those only 18 received a repeat letter for reoffending within six months of the initial offence. And only one had to be contacted a third time.

Blue Light help for problem drinkers

Boston Borough Council staff are also now playing their part in a new county-wide initiative to help problem drinkers resistant to help.

Two member of the council's anti-social behaviour team have undergone "Blue Light" training and will help identify treatment-resistant problem drinkers for referral to the new help project.

The Blue Light project has been launched by Lincolnshire County Council and Lincolnshire's Police and Crime Commissioner to help keep town centres across Lincolnshire safe.

To be delivered by Nacro and Alcohol Concern, the programme will introduce two specialist outreach workers to help these drinkers, as well as a training package to be delivered to people and organisations who come into contact with these drinkers, including street pastors, family workers, supported housing and children's services.

Cllr Woodliffe said: "The council is prepared to help tackle the scourge of alcohol abuse in any way it can. Abuse of alcohol leads to anti-social behaviour, destroys individuals and wrecks relationships and families."

Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, Alan Hardwick, said: "We need to keep our residents safe. This project will go a long way in helping to tackle the issues and root causes which trigger these excessive levels of drinking which, in turn, cause anti-social behaviour in our communities."

Superintendent Mark Housley, Public Protection Officer at Lincolnshire County Council, said: "This is just one example, but in the past two weeks, a 35-year-old woman has got into two fights with neighbours and caused criminal damage whilst under the influence of alcohol. Police have attended these three separate incidents and know there will be others in the future related to this woman. Previously she has been in and out of treatment but has not been able to sustain regular and meaningful engagement. We need to do something to get to the root cause of her drinking."

Mark Holmes from Alcohol Concern, who delivers part of the programme, said: "We've been working with Lincolnshire Police to identify those people who are regularly drunk and cause the most frequent alcohol-related incidents. We then have assigned two specialist workers to help these people get their lives back on track by coordinating support - so bringing together housing, social care, employment and benefits, thereby addressing their issues and therefore putting them in a better and more willing place to deal with their alcohol dependency."

As well as these specialist workers, training is currently being rolled out to more than 200 people across the county who have contact with treatment-resistant drinkers.

Supt Housley said: "It aims to encourage people to think about these drinkers differently. Instead of just putting them forward for a treatment service, we need to think about the cause of their alcoholism - why they are drinking? Maybe it is because they are homeless, have no job or no money, problems with their family, or just feel they have no future. We need to work out what we can do to solve their issues and get them back on the right track, which we ultimately hope will reduce the amount of anti-social behaviour on our streets."