An outright ban on street drinking is set for Boston after a new council report shows the extent of the problem in the town.
At a meeting of the environment and performance committee, members voted to go ahead with recommendations to implement the new Community Protection Order (CPO) – making it one of the first in the country to do so.
This means police will have the power to enforce an outright ban on street drinking in designated areas of the town centre.
The CPO will replace the controversial DPPO, which is not a ban and only gives police powers to act if drinkers are suspected to be committing anti-social behaviour (ASB).
The report shows 97 per cent of people surveyed want a ban on street drinking. Other statistics show just how the problem has increased in recent years.
Alcohol-related police incidents are now 37.9 per cent higher in Boston than the rest of the county – standing at 9.7 per cent of all incidents in 2013. Daytime incidents are also up 18 per cent since 2011.
Speaking at the meeting, the council’s principle community safety officer Peter Hunn, who compiled the report, said as part of Operation Dakota last year, 96 offenders were identified and action taken against 85.
He said a wide range of ages and nationalities were involved, but added: “Approximately 70 per cent of offenders spoken to during the operation were from the migrant community.”
The recommendation is for the town area currently covered by the DPPO to be extended to include the lower High Street area and along the River Witham, taking in Witham Way Country Park.
Current hotspots for daytime street-drinking ASB incidents are the red Lion Street area, Market Place and Town Bridge, West Street and the bus station and the lower High Street and Oxford Street area.
Some councillors said they were in favour of a borough-wide ban. However, Insp Jim Manning of Lincolnshire Police said they do not have the resources to enforce it and the bulk of incidents occurs in the current DPPO area.
Writing in his column for The Standard, council leader Coun Peter Bedford mentions the work the council has done to try and curb the behaviour, from removing benches where drinkers congregated to cutting back bushes used as cover for urinating.
“There is a culture of street drinking, which now has to be broken,” he writes.
Speaking at the meeting Coun Carol Taylor spoke of the ‘fear’ women experience walking past a group of men drinking in the street.
She said: “The people of Boston are asking us to ban this and it’s our duty to protect them. Boston is unfortunately quite famous for this now. We need to show to the rest of the country that we are not going to put up with it.”
Coun Paul Kenny added: “We are doing something very different in Boston. No other authority at this stage is going with the proposals we are.”
The report states that the number of off-licences in Boston has increased by two thirds from 35-59 in 2008-2013, and ‘current hotspots appear to have moved to areas where new off licences are concentrated’
Insp Manning said: “Where new off licences are there has been reports of an increase in alcohol-related ASB and concern for safety incidents.”
Part of the recommendations approved by the committee are for the police, council and other agencies monitor alcohol-related problems within the designated area, and report on whether they are linked to nearby off-licence premises.
Coun Staples added: “I hope we can raise the image of the town by implementing this.”
The cost of implementing the ban in the current DPPO area is £6,000, to include consultation and signage.
The recommendation will now have to be approved by cabinet and full council.