Police warn more court action to come on street drinkers
TOWN centre police say they have just scratched the surface after four people were issued with interim ASBOs for alleged street drinking.
On Monday, Martin Morgan, 27, Kevin Wolton, 30, Andrew Dunn, 45, and David Coutts, 40, were each handed the temporary orders, which ban them from congregating in groups of more than three and being in possession of an open can or bottle of alcohol anywhere in public.
The four were alleged to have got drunk and acted antisocially over a prolonged period, mainly in the area of the bus station, upsetting passers-by and traders – something they all deny.
Last month, six street drinkers appeared before a new neighbourhood justice panel and were handed six-month acceptable behaviour contracts after coming face-to-face with their victims, represented by the town centre management company inSwindon.
The action followed the launch of Operation Arcadia, a multi-agency crackdown on drinkers in the town centre, which the police say are responsible for more than 25 per cent of a 44 per cent rise in anti-social behaviour in the area over the past 18 months.
And while police said the four men issued with orders were top of their list of targets they have promised more court action to come.
“This is just the start,” PC Paul Bezzant, community beat manager for the town centre, said.
“Those four were the ones we identified as key ringleaders or major harm causers and were the common denominator of the problems so we are pleased the court has given them interim orders.
“But this is just the tip of the iceberg and there are others on the backburner so really this should serve as a warning to them that we will go after them too. “There was a lot of support turning out for them outside court and so the word has certainly got out.
“They have been respectful of the dispersal order in place because they don’t want to get arrested but with these orders if they are found to be breaching it is a criminal offence and we will detain them.
“It will not solve all our problems and we still need the public to report any instances of anti-social behaviour to us.”
The four are set to attend court again on October 22 for a further ASBO hearing.
Anyone with any information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.