An individual accused of persistently drinking in the streets of Boston could be taken to court in what would be a first for the country.
Boston Borough Council has applied to the prosecution service to have the case, in which an individual is said to have been regularly requested to stop drinking alcohol in the town’s Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), pursued.
They are accused of breaching a Community Protection Notice issued by the authority as a result of street drinking.
The council’s head of community services Andy Fisher told councillors at the Environment and Performance Committee on Wednesday that the authority’s legal advisors were confident the case could be listed at court using county-wide anti-social behaviour powers.
Mr Fisher said: “We have put together an incredibly strong, robust argument that this is the correct course of action.”
If proved, the case would be a test of the powers available to authorities and could set a precedent for future legal cases. The maximum penalty is a £2,500 fine and/or community service.
Due to legal reasons the individual cannot be identified but it was alleged that they had breached a Community Protection Notice (CPN), issued to them after authorities repeatedly dealt with them under the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) which came into force in January last year.
The council has so far issued three CPNs since the order began.
It has issued a total of nine Community Protection Warnings (the stage prior to a CPN).
These warnings are given to individuals who are caught consuming alcohol within the PSPO area more than once - even though they’ve complied with officer’s requests to desist.
Mr Fisher said the authority would continue to use the powers available to it to deal with street drinking and anti-social behaviour.
He added: “Whilst many people would like us to place a sniper on top of the Stump to stop people drinking that way, we’re not allowed.”
Since the PSPO began 400 warning/advice letters have been sent to individuals and Mr Fisher reported that nearly all those approached had complied with the requests.
The council issued it’s first Fixed Penalty Notice to someone who failed to comply with an instruction to them under the PSPO on the morning of the committee meeting, but prior had not had to issue any.
Mr Fisher also reported that no-one had failed to comply with a request for a second time so no formal prosecutions under the order itself had been issued.