Penzance Town Centre

Penzance Town Centre

Thursday 7 June 2018

Street Drinking - Central Govt limits on Prohibitions

Street drinking in Penzance is an issue and many would like to see it banned because it is the root cause of so much anti-social behaviour. What is not widely known is that street drinking is specifically protected in ASB legislation from any kind of outright ban unlike most other ASB linked activities.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and  Policing Act 2014 (Sect 59) allows local authorities to impose Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) limiting ASB in public places.   These orders can be draconian if the public consultation reveals support for such measures.  The exception is when it comes to regulating street drinking.  Whilst all manner of activities can be forbidden with the threat of fines of up to £1000 (Level 3),  para 63 (4) states:

(4) Consuming alcohol in breach of a public spaces protection order is  not an
offence under this section (but see section 63).

The statutory guidance for using ASB powers (see here) specifically excludes bans on drinking in public open spaces.  

Councils are limited to establishing alcohol control zones where authorized persons (usually the Police) can require individuals drinking alcohol to cease drinking and surrender open containers of drink and pour them away.  Providing the individual complies, no offence is committed.  The maximum penalty in such cases is simply the loss of the drink.  For other PSPO prohibitions the penalty is typically a fine up to the Level 3 limit (£1000) or a fixed penalty fine (under £100).

This exception for street drinking appears to be a sop to the drinks industry.  It is however an exception that comes at great social cost given the harm street drinking does to both the drinkers and the public at large.  It is an exception that needs to be removed. 

There will be a resolution at the extra-ordinary Town Council meeting on Tuesday 12 June to lobby for this exception to be withdrawn.  Nobody should hold their breath because such a change is unlikely to come overnight.  

It is entirely appropriate to expose Central Government 'humbug' over claims of being  tough on anti-social behaviour whilst 'knobbling' meaningful control of the street drinking of alcohol - one of the two big causes of the ASB (drugs being the other).


Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and  Policing Act 2014 here (Section 59 – PSPOs)
Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014: Anti-social behaviour powers.  Statutory guidance for frontline professionals (Updated December 2017) (here) 

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