This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 01/09/2017.
How Croydon Council plans to stop street drinking and antisocial behaviour in the town centre
Croydon Council wants to bring in a new order to stop people drinking and acting antisocially in the town centre.
The authority is proposing a public space protection order (PSPO) enforced by police or council officers which will cover a smaller area than the current drinking ban zone.
If someone fails to comply with the PSPO after being spoken to, if they are an adult, it can mean an £80 fixed penalty notice or prosecution.
The order would specifically focus on people drinking alcohol in public spaces and people “behaving in a manner likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress in the area”.
It does not specify what constitutes as acting in this manner, though, but the council gave examples such as taking drugs or threatening others.
A council spokesman said officers would take a “common-sense approach” to enforcement, initially speaking to anyone appearing to be contravening the order.
Hamida Ali, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for communities, safety and justice, said earlier this year that a PSPO could also be used to tackle the problem of schoolchildren congregating in North End.
This followed the near-fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old in February.
Speaking to the Advertiser this week Cllr Ali said: “It would not be our intention to start issuing fines straight away for street drinking, that would not be a constructive way to deal with that individual when they could be quite vulnerable.
“[People acting antisocially or drinking] really have to be causing concern to others around them. It is very important that it is used appropriately and objectively.”
In a consultation on the PSPO last year, the top three reasons residents supported the order’s use for were drug dealing or drug use, street drinking and antisocial behaviour.
They also wanted spitting in the streets, begging and traffic nuisance included, but the council said they are already covered by laws.
Religious preaching was also suggested, although this is not a criminal offence.
Cllr Ali said, for her, the order was not about targeting any particular group of people and the council is seeking views from community groups before implementing it.
On the catchment area, Cllr Ali said the council wanted to make sure the proposals were “relevant” to where the activities were happening.
PSPOs were created in 2014, to replace existing legislation and introduce wider discretionary powers to deal with any particular nuisance or problem that is detrimental to the local community’s quality of life.
The current designated public place order, which bans drinking from Old Town up to St James’s Road, Cherry Orchard Road and down to Southbridge Road, will remain valid until October 19.
The council’s analysis of crime and antisocial behaviour data for the financial year 2016/17 identified more than 3,220 confirmed crimes within the proposed PSPO area.
It said 39% of the violent offences occurred in North End and the High Street, and 33% of all criminal damage offences recorded within the proposed PSPO area, also occurred in these two locations.
There were 597 calls to the police regarding antisocial behaviour during this period, of which 370 (62%), were classified as rowdy or inconsiderate behaviour.
It added that 31% of the calls to the police for this type of rowdy or inconsiderate behaviour were also linked to North End and the High Street.
The council is seeking residents’ views on the proposals until October 15. The results will then be taken to cabinet on November 20.