Towns tackle drinking problem

By Richard SmithNEW legislation will be used to crack down on rowdy drinkers who are giving market towns a bad name and taking part in drink-fuelled violence.

By Richard Smith

NEW legislation will be used to crack down on rowdy drinkers who are giving market towns a bad name and taking part in drink-fuelled violence.

Residents are fed-up with the antics of people getting drunk until the early hours in streets, public parks and recreation grounds.

They feel so intimidated by groups of drinkers that parts of town centres have effectively been turned into “no-go areas” for the law-abiding public.

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In one incident police discovered a group of 12 youths aged from 12 to 15 by the loading bay of Boots in the Turban Centre, Woodbridge, on a Friday evening.

Pc Mick Sears, town centre community police officer, said he confiscated a large quantity of alcohol that the youths had left behind.

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Now the town councils in Woodbridge and Leiston want to make an order under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 to restrict public drinking in certain parts of their towns.

This would give police the power to stop a person drinking alcohol in the designated area and also to make them surrender opened bottles or cans of alcohol.

It would not be an offence to drink in a designated area, but anyone who did not comply with a police request to stop drinking could be fined up to £500.

However, before the order can be made evidence of an alcohol problem needs to be produced and consultation has to take place with the police, town council, landowners and pub licensees.

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said: “Although neither Woodbridge nor Leiston have the scale of problem that some areas do, officers see it as a positive move to strengthen measures to tackle alcohol related anti-social behaviour.

“We welcome this initiative as it will help us to continue to work towards the aims of our Nightsafe campaign, which includes taking steps towards the prevention of public-place violent crime, damage and disorder.”

In Woodbridge, £900 will be spent by the crime and disorder reduction partnership and the town council on 60 signs publicising the designated area, which will include Kingston Field, the river wall, Elmhurst Park, Fen Meadow and the town centre.

Les Binns, a Woodbridge town councillor on the banning alcohol sub-committee, said: “Incidents are still occurring and we have certainly got to do something about it.

“We are not trying to stop people enjoying themselves at activities such as in Elmhurst Park, where they bring a picnic and a bottle of wine, but we are trying to stop the riff-raff and the under-age drinking that goes on.”

In Leiston, 30 signs costing a total of £450, to be funded by the crime and disorder reduction partnership and town council, will be required to mark out the proposed area including the town centre, three schools, recreation grounds and sports centre.

The proposal will be discussed by Suffolk Coastal District Council's cabinet on September 7.

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