Get off the booze and get off our streets
Council proposes tough action on street drinker menace
Measures to curb anti-social street drinking throughout Hammersmith & Fulham will go ahead if a public consultation proves residents and businesses are in favour.
Persistent anti-social street drinkers who refuse to hand over their booze could face arrest and a night in the cells under the radical new plans being hammered out at the town hall.
Tough tactics to squeeze out nuisance drinkers could see the entire borough being turned into a controlled drinking area (CDA). Police will gain discretionary powers to confiscate alcohol and pour booze down the drain.
Cllr Greg Smith, cabinet member for crime and anti-social behaviour, says, "We are determined to crack down on the growing menace of anti-social street drinking in Hammersmith & Fulham. That is why we are consulting residents on a potential borough wide controlled drinking area. We're telling the drunks on the streets, who end up harassing and intimidating the vast majority of law-abiding residents, to get off the booze and get off our streets."
If approved, the new measures will affect every street in the borough, targeting street drinkers with entrenched addictions and curbing the behaviour of rowdy drunks.
"This is not about stopping the vast majority of residents enjoying a glass of wine with a picnic or outside a pub, but about giving the police an addition tool to target a minority of persistent street drinkers who make other residents' lives a misery," continues Cllr Smith.
Following a meeting with local residents, Labour MP Andy Slaughter echoed the call to make the whole borough a Controlled Drinking Zone. He said “What I heard confirmed what other constituents have told me about the increasing numbers of street drinkers and of sites where they gather.
“In the last month I have had complaints about Wendell Park and Wormholt Park - and of course Shepherd's Bush Green. But the problem is not confined to parks and commons. Residents have to put up with noise, abusive language and worrying behaviour right outside their front doors and windows but police have limited powers to intervene without the Zone.
“Now both Ealing and Kensington are introducing Zones that go up to the Borough borders, with the risk of displacing street drinkers into places like Edward Woods and Wendell Park. This and the fact that the street drinkers seem happy to congregate anywhere, make a whole-Borough Zone the best option.
“I know Heather Valentine, the Borough Commander, is considering the proposal and I am keen to lend my support. My only reservation is resources: the Zone has to be enforced or the problem will not go away. I am confident that the new Safer Neighbourhoods Teams will be up to the task but it is also important to provide help for the street drinkers, many of whom have a total alcohol dependency or mental health problems.”
A decision on whether to roll out a borough-wide scheme will be made at a full council meeting on September 20 when the results of the consultation have been considered.
August 21, 2006