No-go areas aim to hit street drinkers
INTIMIDATING anti-social behaviour by groups drinking in the streets in the town centre will be stamped out with an extended dispersal order brought in by locality lead Mark Walker.
The new order will come into effect today across the town centre, as well as Broadgreen and Spring Gardens, where problems with large groups congregating are beginning to mount.
A previous order, which covered a smaller area, had expired approximately one month ago and required renewal after elderly residents and businesses consistently raised worries.
“It’s evidence-based where we have recorded issues and concerns so that there’s a proportionality as part of the consideration,” said Mr Walker, Swindon Council’s Town Centre locality lead.
“It’s a balance between the rights of people enjoying themselves and the safety concerns of residents who are being, if abused is too strong a word, persistently presented with people who have drinking issues.
“We have a hard core of street drinkers, many of whom have ASBOs in place. They have prohibitions placed on them being in certain parts of the town.
“They are displaced from one place to another and we have to amend those prohibitions if it’s the same people turning up in one spot.
“Last year we had lots of problems with the bus station. It’s not attractive for visitors to Swindon to be presented with a group of drinkers. “We have had great concerns expressed from local residents in the area and we have seen a great volume of discarded material, empty cans and bottles.
“Where we have stopped them in one part of the town centre it’s moved them into another and they quickly work out where they can go – they’re not completely stupid.”
Mr Walker said there are currently 12 anti-social behaviour orders in place across the town centre, with plans in place for several more over the coming months.
The order gives police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) the power to disperse groups of two or more individuals where their presence is either causing or is likely to cause a member of the public to feel intimidated, alarmed, distressed or harassed.
The order coincidentally comes into effect one day before England kick off their World Cup campaign.
Broadgreen community beat manager PC Luke Atkinson said: “This legislation is a vital tool which gives PCs and PCSOs the power to deal with anti-social behaviour around Swindon town centre.
“Perpetrators of anti-social behaviour in groups can be dispersed for up to 24 hours and failure to comply with this order, or returning to the location within the designated time period, can and will lead to arrest.
“Targeting anti-social behaviour is a priority for the Town Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team and will continue to be in the future. Notification of the dispersal order, including a map of the area it includes, will be placed at public locations around the town centre when the order begins on Friday.”