Police and Security Minister, David Hanson, will witness first hand Lambeth Council’s partnership efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour in Waterloo when he visits the area on Thursday, March 18.
The Home Office Minister will meet with senior figures involved in the SaferLambeth Partnership, which has brought together the council, police, transport for London, and local businesses to help resolve entrenched rough sleepers, street drinkers, illegal street traders, handbag thieves, and problematic licensed premises. The Minister will be given an insight into the various safety measures the council has introduced to help tackle anti-social behaviour which has slashed crime including burglary, shoplifting, and anti-social behaviour by 20 per cent in the past twelve months.
These include the first of two dispersal zones (DZ) that were introduced to respond to anti-social hotspot areas in Waterloo such as Millennium Green where rough sleeping and street drinking had become a major concern. The order gave police extra powers to move on groups of two or more people who they believe were causing or were likely to cause harassment alarm and distress to the community. In the first six month period the police carried out 165 dispersals and five arrests. This figure was dramatically reduced to just 26 dispersals in the latter six months when the second DZ was introduced.
The entire borough was also made a controlled drinking zone in December 2009 which gave police and PCSOs powers to confiscate alcohol or ask a person to stop drinking if they feel their behaviour is of an anti-social nature. Since its introduction the Bishops Safer Neighbourhood Team has carried out 100 confiscations which have had a dramatic impact upon entrenched street drinkers in Waterloo. The partnership also regularly uses anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) to tackle prolific offenders – there are currently four ASBOs in relation to handbag thieves along the Southbank, which prohibit entry into the area.
Mr Hanson will first meet representatives of the South Bank Employers’ Group (SBEG) which has joined forces with the SaferLambeth Partnership and is made up of sixteen major organisations in South Bank, Waterloo, and Blackfriars. The group’s long term commitment is to improving the everyday experiences of employees, visitors and the local community.
As part of a joint initiative between the council and SBEG, the South Bank Patrol service was also introduced in October 2008 as a joint initiative between SBEG and Lambeth Council. The service offers a high visibility street presence to address a wide range of local issues including illegal street trading, anti-social behaviour, rough sleeping, and low-level crime. During the walkabout Mr Hanson will join the patrol as they monitor the Southbank. Since their introduction, the patrol service has virtually wiped out illegal street trading along the Southbank from a reported 521 illegal traders recorded from October 2008 to December 2008, to 36 in the same period for 2009.
Councillor Mark Bennett, Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “We have taken tremendous steps to reduce the problem anti-social behaviour such as street drinking, rough sleepers, and illegal street traders. No one should have to walk along the street in Waterloo or any other part of Lambeth in fear of being intimidated and these steps go a long way to address this type of behaviour head-on.”
Other initiatives that will be discussed with the minister include residents’ use of the Licensing Act 2003 to ask for reviews of persistently anti-social licensed premises. The minister will also visit the Webber Street day centre which is a faith based charity providing basic care facilities for the street population.