Street drinkers are handed out ASBOs
FOUR people alleged to be among a gang of street drinkers who cause trouble in the town centre were given anti-social behaviour orders at Swindon Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Martin Morgan, 27, Kevin Wolton, 30, Andrew Dunn, 45, and David Coutts, 40, who denied the allegations, are said to have got drunk and acted anti-socially over a prolonged period, mainly in the area of the bus station, upsetting passers-by and traders.
And yesterday they were given three-month interim ASBOs banning them from being in possession of an open can or bottle of alcohol, or being in a group of more than three adults, in any street or public place in the borough.
During the proceedings, Wolton was told to shut up by his own lawyer on several occasions after interjecting during the proceedings, and his mobile phone was briefly taken away because it kept ringing.
The court 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.
Francis Maples, representing Swindon Council, said: “If I said street drinking and bus station, I’ve probably said enough to indicate the nature of the behaviour, but it manifests itself in a lot of other locations as well.
“We’re talking about group behaviour that has a really quite alarming and intimidating effect upon members of the public.
“Street drinking is very unpleasant for mothers with young children, they find it intimidating. They take avoiding action, they’re concerned about their children witnessing any bad loutish behaviour. So we aren’t just talking about protecting perhaps older and more vulnerable people, we’re talking about protecting society across the board.”
Dunn also faces extra allegations that his dog had caused difficulties for the public in the town centre. In one alleged incident in May, his dog is said to have attacked a skateboard rider and a skateboard.
Martin Guyll-Wiggins, representing Coutts, Wolton and Dunn, who all attended, said: “Whilst they don’t accept the complaints made about them or the evidence put forward in support, there’s no objection to an interim Asbo on these terms.”
In relation to Dunn, he said he felt himself a responsible owner who always had his dog on a lead.
Lee Mott, defending Morgan, of Tudor Walk, who did not attend, said his client contested the application for the order and denied the allegations, adding that some of them were “seriously thin”.
Wolton, of Haydon End, Dunn, of Thornford Drive, and Coutts, of Harding Street, are also banned from begging in public in Swindon.
Dunn is only allowed to be in a group of three or more people, providing they are specific named family members, and he is prohibited from having a dog with him in public unless it is on a lead, muzzled and under control.