‘Use Victorian justice on Boston street drinkers’

Campaigners are calling for action on street drinking
Campaigners are calling for action on street drinking

Campaigners are calling on the police to use a tough Victorian law to deal with the issue of street drinking in Boston.

A community group toured King’s Lynn and felt the Norfolk town suffers much less from the blight of boozing in public. They were told by a policeman that the secret was the use of a strict Victorian law which has never been repealed.

The Inebriates Act 1898 has been used with the town’s Designated Public Place Orders (DPPO) since 2012.

Under the act, police and courts have the power to ban a person from holding, buying or even owning alcohol if they have been in trouble on drink related charges three times in 12 months. It involves them being hauled before the magistrates’ court and labelled an ‘habitual drunkard’.

Businesses can also get into trouble for selling them alcohol.

Boston Big Local’s Rachel Lauberts, one of King’s Lynn touring party, said: “We went with really, really critical eyes and were looking for litter, cigarette ends, street drinking.

She added: “We just couldn’t see anybody street drinking, there was nothing, and we searched high and low, even looking under bushes.”

Labour Coun Paul Gleeson questioned why the law cannot be used in Boston, adding: “It does seem to be lots of other places have stopped street drinking becoming the issue it has in Boston.”

He said ‘the truth’ was that people who drink in the street were more likely to be found littering and urinating in public places.

A Norfolk Police spokesman said: “This scheme has been a great success in the town and continues to show success to reduce anti-social behaviour as well as street drinking.”

Authorities in Boston are already looking to replace the current DPPO in Boston with a Community Protection Order.

Lincolnshire Police Insp Jim Manning said: “Boston Police will look at how King’s Lynn use this legislation and see if it is practical for Boston, however the new Public Spaces Protection Order that the will hopefully be introduced will be far more wide reaching than the Inebriates Act so this Victorian legislation may not be necessary for Boston.”

A Boston Borough Council spokesman claimed things are ‘not as rosy as portrayed’ in Lynn, pointing to the fact police stepped up patrols to further combat the issue last year.

A scrutiny committee is due to meet at the council offices in West Street, next Thursday, October 16, at 6.30pm, to discuss street drinking.