New laws to tackle rowdy drunken yobs

Alcohol fuelled yobs could have their drink confiscated on the street, or even find themselves behind bars, under new laws set to be brought in across North Walsham.

Alcohol fuelled yobs could have their drink confiscated on the street, or even find themselves behind bars, under new laws set to be brought in across North Walsham.

Police and local councils want to bring in a special law which strengthens their ability to deal with drunken behaviour, over and above their normal powers.

The law does not provide “no booze zones”, but instead gives police officers an additional weapon in their armoury - above standard public order laws - to deal with anti-social behaviour if it is driven by alcohol.

The “designated area order” would apply to nominated streets, parks and other green spaces where there is evidence to prove there has been trouble linked to alcohol.

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Officers would be able to tell people to stop drinking or confiscate the alcohol. If the person refuses they have committed a criminal offence.

The same legislation has been used in Sheringham to good effect, said Sgt Kersty Brooks, of the North Walsham safer neighbourhood team.

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“It doesn't stop people drinking,” said Sgt Brooks. “But if people are becoming anti-social with it, we have the power to take the alcohol away, which is not a power we currently have.

“It is another article in our tool kit. Officers in Sheringham have used it and found there have been fewer incidents of anti-social behaviour linked with drinking.

“We want to get this right so we are asking as many people as possible to get in touch and tell us what they know.”

North Norfolk District Council's community safety manager Teri Munro said the project in Sheringham had proved “very effective” and been particularly useful in improving the atmosphere during the summer carnival.

“These are not no alcohol zones. It is fine to drink responsibly, but this legislation allows for early intervention before public order offences are committed.

“What is needed is evidence which says there has been drinking and anti-social behaviour in the same place at the same time. This is not about behaviour on the way home from the pub.”

Once the evidence had been gathered a decision over where an order should take effect would be made by councillors, which would then need ratification by the secretary of state.

Ms Munro said the order could be in place by early April, but should be ready in time for the summer.

The partnership project also includes North Walsham Town Council.

Evidence from the public will be added to police records showing where crimes have been committed and calls made to the police. It must be from the last year, cannot be anonymous and must show a direct link between drinking and anti social behaviour in specific locations.

Letters asking people for their views will be posted through hundreds of doors around town and will be available at North Walsham police station and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb's Market Place office.

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