‘…but no one is saying the problem has entirely gone away’

Latest figures show that fewer street drinkers are being reported in the Boston drinking control zone.

While the statistics alone do not propose that problems with street drinking in the town have gone away, they do suggest that it is on the decrease.

Police figures show that so far in 2019 only 11 incidents of street drinking were reported by the public. A typical day sees up to 100 calls from the public reporting all types of non-emergency incidents.

There were no street drinking referral requests from the police to Boston Borough Council’s anti-social behaviour team for Public Space Protection Order (Alcohol) letters to be issued between November 2018 and March 2019.

The police have said that the rewards have been reaped from a purge on street drinking during last summer and that officers continue to proactively deal with street drinkers when they come across them. Most of these have been found to be homeless, so referring them for warning letters is not viable.

The council uses latest available legislation to control consumption of alcohol in a zone in the town centre and the anti-social behaviour team acts on referrals from the police.

Tonight the council’s environment and performance committee will consider the anti-social behaviour Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) alcohol statistics for 2018/19.

There is a four-stage approach to dealing with repeat offenders under the PSPO legislation: Stage one advice letters were issued to 130 in 2017/18 compared to 141 in 2018/19; stage two warning letters were issued to four in 2017/18 compared to 20 in 2018/19; two community protection notice warnings were issued to repeat offenders in 2017/18 compared to six in 2018/19 and one stage four community protection notice was issued in 2018/19 compared with none in 2017/18.

There is a four-stage approach to dealing with repeat anti-social behaviour offenders. In 2018/19 85 stage one advice letters were issued compared to 77 in 2017/18; stage two warning letters were sent to 22 repeat offenders in 2018/19 compared to 25 in 2017/18; just one acceptable behaviour agreement was used in 2018/19 compared to eight in 2017/18 and three civil injunctions were granted by the courts in both years.

The PSPO requires that anyone drinking alcohol in the control area stops when ordered to do so by a police officer. Anyone refusing to do so commits an offence.

Only 20 PSPO warning letters were served as a consequence of the 141 advice letters, indicating that the significant majority of those subject to warnings heed them accordingly.

Cllr Paul Skinner, the council’s regulatory portfolio holder, said: “Some evidence will probably always be found to show that some persist in street drinking. No one is saying the problem has entirely gone away. There has always been an element of street drinking, and there probably always will be. But the figures from the police appear to show that it is a decreasing problem.

“We are not resting on our laurels and I want to hear the public’s concerns. I am as keen as anyone to improve the perception of the town and improve the environment. One of the anti-social behaviour issues we have is with litter, and yet there are 172 litter bins in the town area alone and 20 in Central Park.”