Bideford PSPO to tackle anti-social street drinking extended
- Credit: TDC
Councillors have extended the area covered by a ‘crime crackdown’ which offers a ‘pragmatic, proportionate and enforceable’ response to anti-social street drinking in Bideford.
A Public Space Protection Order was initially imposed in Bideford in 2018 in response to issues of street drinking around the parts of the town and the quay, with the order lasting for three years.
Torridge District Council, when they met on Monday night (April 26), agreed to extend the order for a further three years, but also to include the area around Bank End as part of the restricted zone, and also to include other intoxicating substances in addition to alcohol.
A breach of a PSPO is a criminal offence and can result in a fixed penalty notice of £100 on breach of an order.
Jan Williams, public health and housing manager for Torridge, told Monday’s meeting the order was worded in such a way to make anti-social behaviour the key element in determining acceptability of the consumption of alcohol in the open air, and that there was no intent to unduly penalise non anti-social alcohol consumption such as picnickers in the park or attendees at events in the town such as the new year celebrations.
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And she said while it wouldn’t provide an end to anti-social behaviour in Bideford, it does provide ‘decent enforcement action and was a range of tools to tackle the disorder’.
She added: “These proposals offer a pragmatic, proportionate and enforceable response to antisocial street drinking in Bideford.”
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Support had been given by both the Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez, although the meeting was told that ‘purdah’ meant they couldn’t be told what her comments were, and from Emma Lefort, Torridge Acting Sector Inspector.
Insp Lefort had said: “I am wholeheartedly in favour of this proposal, which if implemented, will collectively enable Police and the Council to deal with Anti-Social Behaviour in a much wider area, as detailed in the associated map. The current PSPO, has had limited value due to the small area it covers.
“Where anti-social or substance-related behaviour falls outside of the current prescribed area, accredited staff can often be left with limited powers to provide an effective resolution. The area covered in the proposed PSPO provides us with greater opportunity to keep the town safe and not simply move the problem ‘down the road’.
“The conditions are very clear and unambiguous and allow for the council and Police to be able to issue sanctions if they are breached. I do not believe any of them to be controversial, complicated or unachievable and in fact allow for previously excluded behaviour such as anti-social driving around the town to be covered.”
This PSPO gives Torridge District Council and Devon and Cornwall Police control in relation to any person who, without reasonable excuse, continues consuming alcohol or any intoxicating substance in any of the restricted areas when asked not to consume alcohol by a Police Constable, Police Community Support Officer or an Authorised Council Officer, commits an offence.
It also means that any person who, without reasonable excuse, whilst in any of the restricted areas, fails to surrender any open vessel(s) of alcohol in their possession at the request of a Police Constable, Police Community Support Officer or an Authorised Council Officer, commits an offence, as if behaviour is perceived to be anti-social, aggressive and / or intimidating.
Councillor Ken James, who earlier at the meeting had been re-elected for another year as leader of the council, said: “This does give us the control we need. The current order runs out so it is an opportunity to get one in place that is more substantial for what it covers and for the area it covers.”
Cllr Doug Bushby, who was elected as the council chairman earlier in the meeting, added: “This has been a long time coming and I am delighted that this has now happened, but I will be looking for results and I expect to see results. I want them to be proactive on this rather than reactive.”
Councillors unanimously to approve the designation of the Public Space Protection Order.