A picturesque town centre green that was blighted by aggressive street drinkers can again be enjoyed by the community, thanks to a zero tolerance approach taken by Lambeth Council and police.
A total of 20 prolific street drinkers who congregated daily in Streatham Green and intimidated the public have left the area after tough measures were introduced to combat their rowdy behaviour head-on last month.
As part of the Safer Lambeth Partnership’s Streatham Green Action Plan, police are using additional powers, under the 2006 Violent Crime Reduction Act. This enables police officers to remove anti-social street drinkers for up to 48 hours in and around Streatham Green – or face prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500. The introduction of the new powers does not mean a ban on outdoor drinking, it provides police with powers to reduce alcohol-related anti-social behaviour.
The extra powers are in addition to those introduced in December 2009, when the entire borough was subject to an indefinite controlled drinking zone (CDZ) which means police can confiscate alcohol from individuals whose behaviour is considered aggressive or intimidating.
The action plan was put in place after local residents complained that they could not enjoy the green – which was re-landscaped by Lambeth Council in 2004. Thanks to intelligence and tough enforcement action taken by the Streatham Town Centre Police Team, St Leonard’s Safer Neighbourhood Police Team, and the newly created Anti-Social Behaviour Police Patrol Unit, the green has been clear of street drinkers since the day the action plan was introduced on Monday 14 June.
In addition to tough enforcement action, Lambeth Council’s Community Safety Team has engaged with the 20 prolific street drinkers, of which 15 are now working with Lambeth Council’s Street Outreach Response Team (SORT), with the remaining five due for referral to the team’s numerous intervention programmes within the next few days. By working with SORT, they will receive expert advice on addressing problems such as alcohol misuse, unemployment, and with the vast majority already in housing – other problems such as coping with rent arrears, and debt management.
In addition to high visibility police patrols in and around Streatham Green, Lambeth Council’s Park Rangers and Street Care team have also patrolled to ensure regular cleaning and maintenance of the area, as well as warning letters sent to off licences reminding them of their responsibilities and to ensure that they do not serve individuals who are clearly intoxicated.
Inspector Nick Fallowfield said “The Streatham Green has been suffering from anti-social behaviour related to street drinkers for a long period of time and this partnership operation, utilising our new ASBAT team based at Streatham Police Station, has shown that this sort of behaviour will no longer be tolerated. The Green should be a place of relaxation for all. The strict enforcement of our new Controlled Drinking Zone powers by the A23 team, St Leonard’s Safer Neighbourhood Team and the ASBAT team has been instrumental in achieving this. We now need to maintain the pressure so that the previous poor behaviour does not return. My thanks also go to all our partners who are working with us to resolve this issue.”
Councillor Rachel Heywood, Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “People should be able to enjoy Streatham Green without the risk of being threatened or intimidated by rowdy and aggressive street drinkers. These additional powers are designed to strike at the heart of this problem – and to date have shown to be extremely effective.”
She added: “But tough enforcement action is only part of the solution. We are working with partner agencies such as the police and Thames SORT to ensure prolific street drinkers are provided with the rehabilitation and counselling they need to change their behaviour.”
The Streatham Green Action Plan will be reviewed in September, when a decision to extend the strategy will be taken by Lambeth Council and police.
To report incidents of anti-social behaviour contact Lambeth Council’s anti-social behaviour reporting line on 020 7926 4000.