New clampdown on street drinkers

A FAR-reaching scheme that would give extra powers for alcohol to be seized on the streets of Hucknall in a bid to stamp down on anti-social behaviour has been showcased by Ashfield District Council.

A meeting of Hucknall Area Consultative Group heard a presentation about a proposal to create and expand designated public places orders (DPPOs) in the town.

Under the plan, virtually the whole of Hucknall would come under new rules that would allow council-employed community protection officers (CPOs) to onfiscate booze from troublemakers on the street.

Now a full consultation has been launched and will run until January.

After that, public comments will be reviewed with hopes that the DPPOs can be in place by the end of March next year.

Chris Booth, an officer with Ashfield Council, speaking at the area consultative group meeting, said: “This is not a panacea. It is not the sole solution at all. It would be in the kit for people to use to reduce anti-social behaviour.

“It is not about creating an alcohol-free zone. It is perfectly legal to consume alcohol in public. It is about dealing with alcohol-related anti-social behaviour.

“It is about dealing with people behaving poorly through drink. It is not an alcohol ban.”

Back in 2005, hotspots for alcohol-fuelled trouble in Hucknall came under DPPOs which, at the time, were trailblazing pieces of legislation.

But they are now out of date as they pre-date the launch of Ashfield Council’s team of CPOs, who are tasked with making Hucknall and the rest of the district safer, greener and cleaner.

It was decided that the orders remain an “essential tool in tackling alcohol-related anti-social behaviour” but that they were in need of a review.

Under the rules, it would not be an offence to drink but it would be an offence to refuse to stop drinking when asked to by a CPO. Initial action would be to confiscate the booze but prosecution could follow with a fine of up to £500 or the culprit being hauled before the courts.

Coun Trevor Locke (Lab), a Hucknall member of the council, voiced concerns about how such orders would be policed.

He said: “With anything like this, the key is being able to enforce this. There is no deterrent if there is no way of sticking with the new rules.”