Public drinking ‘reprisal’ fears

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FEARS that the police approach to anti-social public drinking could lead to confusion have been raised by a town councillor.

Terry Jermy, a Thetford town councillor, has raised concerns that residents could ‘take matters into their own hands’ to deal with public drinkers in Thetford town centre.

A Designated Public Place Order for the town centre means alcohol is allowed but police have the power to confiscate booze if drinkers are acting in an anti-social manner.

But without a blanket ban on alcohol in the street, residents have been left confused when others are allowed to continue drinking, according to Cllr Jermy.

“My fear is that because there’s this perception of nothing being done, a lot of people will start to challenge people themselves and take matters into their own hands.

“The situation is being managed but if the public can’t see the police doing anything, it can be frustrating,” he said.

Cllr Jermy added that despite an increase in anti-social public boozing he had no desire to see public drinking banned. However, he said police needed to be clearer on what their approach was.

Norfolk Police have moved to clear up confusion over their approach, with a Safer Thetford Action Group (STAG) meeting being held last night at the Guildhall.

A big turnout was expected for the meeting, with police eager to clarify the situation. Residents also had a say on what the town’s policing priorities should be for the coming months.

In a statement last week, Sergeant Jon Papworth said: “Although many people enjoy alcohol responsibly, we are taking a very firm line on anyone found drinking in a Designated Public Place, which is generally made up of the town centre.

“Officers and PCSOs all have the power to confiscate alcohol from such individuals and we will be issuing Fixed Penalty Notices or making arrests for further disorder.”

“We would encourage everyone to drink within their homes or at a local public house rather than socialise and consume alcohol in the street.”

Police say 221 people have been spoken to regarding alcohol-related anti-social behaviour. Alcohol has also been seized and three arrests have been made.

In addition, a Fixed Penalty Notice and three Section 27, direction to leave notices have been issued.