Busy start for ‘zero tolerance’ booze campaign

Joseph Bulmer

North Devon police spread the word on local Stagecoach buses after more than 40 arrests during the start of Christmas campaign to crack down on drunken behaviour in town centres.

A TOUGH stance on drunken behaviour has already seen a busy start to the festive period for North Devon police.

Ten days in to the launch of Operation reveller, extra officers have been on the streets of Barnstaple, Bideford and Ilfracombe taking a zero tolerance approach to antisocial boozy behaviour.

Sergeant Mark Harper, community safety officer for North and West Devon, said since December 1 a total of 115 people had been in custody, 44 of those arrested for violence, drink-related or public order offences.

He said officers have also carried out 30 dispersal orders - requiring trouble makers to leave an area or face arrest – plus 73 checks of licensed premises and 25 seizures of alcohol.

More than 100 people have been stopped and searched for illegal alcohol and as part of their Christmas campaign police have already conducted 88 roadside breath tests, with six arrests for drink driving.

The initiative is being highlighted right across the region with a mass advertising campaign on some 14 Stagecoach buses, reminding people to “think before they drink” this Christmas.

The design, also being distributed to pubs and licensed premises, shows a happy young man drinking, with empty glasses spread out before him and then behind him the potential consequences – fights, injuries or arrest.

Sgt Harper said the operation was not just about enforcement and having the advertising on the buses helped to get the education message across too.

“It is not a national campaign, it is a local message we are trying to get across,” he said.

“Officers will be out looking for disorderly behaviour and to make early arrests to prevent problems later in the evening.

“We did not think we would be quite as busy, but I think the community officers have been really getting behind it and worked hard, being proactive, making stop checks, seizing alcohol and making arrests as required.”

Stagecoach offers a �2 Niterider ticket giving unlimited travel on its buses anywhere in the South West after 7pm.