ACTION to deal with rowdy street drinkers who intimidate shoppers and residents in Streatham is being stepped up.
Off-licences are being encouraged to join a new voluntary scheme which sees shops agree not to sell single cans of beer or cider, in a bid to cut drunkenness, aggressive begging, anti-social behaviour and street urination.
It is part of a push by Lambeth Council and the MPS in Lambeth to deal with aggressive street drinkers and beggars who cause people to feel threatened and intimidated, especially around Streatham High Road, Mitcham Lane, Greyhound Lane and Gleneagle Road.
Restricting single can sales has proven to reduce street drinking in other areas, and so far 25 off-licences in and around Streatham have signed up to these Responsible Retail Agreements (RRA).
As part of the crackdown the council’s licensing sub-committee has also recently included a ban on single can sales as a condition of the licences of a number of local shops, in a bid to tackle the problem.
The scheme is being backed up by a drive to encourage the street drinkers themselves to get help for addiction and get them into specialist services to turn their lives around.
Teams of outreach workers are being regularly deployed to talk to street drinkers and offer them support and advice, and police are actively enforcing Lambeth’s controlled drinking zone, which gives them the power to confiscate any alcoholic drinks either open or closed and make arrests if necessary.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for public protection, said: “Residents are sick and tired of problems caused by street drinkers in Streatham and are overwhelmingly supportive of the steps we are taking to tackle the issue.
“People shouldn’t be made to feel unsafe going about their daily business, which is why we are taking action.
“Banning single can sales of high strength ciders and beers has proved effective at reducing the numbers of people drinking on the streets in other areas, and it is supported by the police and local residents.
“Many street drinkers will beg until they have enough for a can, so having these restrictions does discourage this type of behaviour.
“But we are also backing up this approach with outreach support for street drinkers, many of whom have long term problems with addiction, so that we can get them into support to turn their lives around.
“We are determined to do all we can to tackle this problem as we know what a major concern it is for local residents and how severely it can impact their quality of life.”
Inspector Nick Fallowfield from Streatham police station said: “Listening to the local community’s concerns through the Safer Neighbourhood ward panel meetings, we understand the nuisance caused by these individuals.
“We have been taking measures through our licensing team and with the local authority to resolve the problems our residents face, while supporting those who have an addiction through the outreach workers.
“Our Safer Neighbourhoods Teams regularly visit the shops that are signed up to the RRA’s while encouraging other retailers to join.
“Once a month licensing visits are conducted with the local council to carry out test purchases on our known problem retail addresses, and to report any breaches of law to the licensing team.
“Together we are committed to tackling this issue to better our public spaces and make our borough a great place to be.”