Tooting’s Labour Councillors are supporting a plan to deal with problem street drinkers in Tooting and Graveney. The council and police are proposing to make outside public places in parts of the two wards, including Tooting High Street, alcohol free zones.
The scheme, which starts next Monday, comes in response to increasing reports from members of the public about a hardcore group of street drinkers, who are the source of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour such as fighting, intimidation and urinating in public.
It would give constables and police community support officers the power to instruct people to stop drinking in designated public places – and if necessary confiscate their alcohol. Anyone refusing could face an on-the spot fine or prosecution in the magistrates court.
The zone, which will remain in place for 12 months, would cover Tooting High Street, Upper Tooting Road and extend south west to include Lambeth Cemetery, north west to include Streatham Cemetery and south east to include Rectory Lane (the proposed area can be seen in the map above).
Wandsworth Council believes the alcohol free zone would help businesses in the area, as owners and employees have reported that they have suffered a loss of trade due to customers being put off by street drinkers outside shops.
The council, NHS Wandsworth and local police safer neighbourhood team have attempted to curb the problems caused by street drinkers by trying to help enrol them in alcohol treatment programmes.
Later this month and for a period of several weeks, outreach workers from local drug and alcohol services – working closely with the police – will encourage people in street drinking groups to attend specially established drop in surgeries so that their overall health can be assessed and they can receive the help they need to control their drinking.
Meanwhile, police have, where appropriate, referred street drinkers with housing issues to London Street Rescue, which has resulted in them either being housed or given temporary shelter.
An alcohol free zone is essentially a Designated Public Place Order (DPPO) – contained in The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 and designed to tackle nuisance and annoyance caused by the consumption of alcohol in public places.