Consuming alcohol on the street is not exclusively a problem confined to those under the age of 18.
Older individuals may also participate in such behaviour and can be associated with purchasing alcohol for younger individuals.
Individuals drinking on the street can be intimidating and are often accused of causing damage and vandalising property. We use a number of tools to deal with this issue as follows.
Confiscation of alcohol
Our Community Safety Wardens are accredited by the Chief Constable of Gwent Police under Schedule 5 of the Police Reform Act 2002. As part of this accreditation, they have powers under the Young Persons (Confiscation of Alcohol) Act 1997 which allow them to confiscate alcohol being consumed by under 18's.
Street drinking and consumption by young people is a particular problem in the county borough. During 2010/11 our Community Safety Wardens used legal powers to confiscate 669 items of alcohol, either in areas subject to a Designated Public Place Order (DPPO) or from under 18's in any public place. Attempts are made to trace the source of the alcohol and refer the intelligence on to the Police and Trading Standards where possible.
It is acknowledged that within the county borough young people obtain alcohol by asking adults entering shops to purchase alcohol on their behalf. It is an offence under the Licensing Act 2003 for the adult to do this.
The police enforce this offence and can issue a Penalty Notice for Disorder to the adult who purchases alcohol for a person under the age of 18. Trading Standards have been working with the police to combat these sales using our CCTV cameras and surveillance equipment in conjunction with more traditional test purchase operations.
Designated Public Place Order (Alcohol Control Zone)
The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (CJPA) gave local authorities the power to designate public areas through the introduction of a Designated Public Places Order (DPPO) where it is an offence to drink alcohol after being required by a police officer, or other authorised officer, not to do so.
DPPOs make it easier for local authorities to designate places where restrictions on public drinking apply and can be used in areas that have experienced alcohol-related disorder or nuisance.
Police officers, PCSOs and the council's Community Safety Wardens (who have certain powers by virtue of their accreditation by the Chief Constable) have powers to control the consumption of alcohol within the designated area. If they believe someone is consuming alcohol or intends to consume alcohol they can: -
- Require them to stop; and
- Confiscate alcohol from people whether the drinking vessel is unopened or not.
There are currently 29 designated areas throughout the county borough with plans to extend to further areas as necessary.
The Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 contains powers to permit the police to disperse groups of two or more people engaged in Anti Social Behaviour. In addition police have the power to return young people to their homes, aged under 16 years, who are unsupervised in public places after 9pm.
These powers will only be available where an authorisation has been made by an officer of at least the rank of police superintendent in respect of a designated area.
The Police are required to consult with the council and can only introduce the Dispersal Notice if the council agrees. Dispersal Notices must relate to specific identified areas where there is evidence of serious, persistent Anti Social Behaviour that it is felt will be reduced by the introduction of such a notice. Dispersal Notices cannot be in operation for more than six months. To date, Dispersal Notices have been used in the county borough on five occasions.