The police have told how they are frustrated by months of delays by the council in issuing anti social behaviour fines to street drinkers in Thornton Heath.
Thornton Heath Safer Neighbourhood Team provided evidence to the council including videos of seven key drinkers breaching warnings telling them not to drink or congregate at the Clocktower which is covered by a council Public Spaces Protection Order banning drinking.
The lack of council action coincides with a month long consultation on the future of the PSPO with residents asked to share their views in a survey:
In a press release launching the consultation it says the PSPO is meant to ‘prohibit’ street drinking and that a breach of the PSPO is a criminal offence which can be dealt with, either by way of a fixed penalty notice, or prosecution’.
For more than two years the Thornton Heath’s Clocktower has become a destination hotspot for groups of drinkers with some residents avoiding the area as they feel intimidated. The drinkers often row amongst themselves with two arrested after one fight in front of children on their way to school.
Police had shared at the ward panel meeting last month that an ‘unbelievable’ amount of work gone in to tackling this issue but they found themselves going around in circles and have to prioritise policing the rest of Thornton Heath.
They revealed that one of the biggest battles is the delays caused by the council. The police said they were happy to serve the council issued tickets on the drinkers but they hadn’t materialised.
The police who say they have a good relationship with the council ‘understand they are busy’ but the evidence was supplied two months ago.
Police Sgt Andy Smith made it clear at the meeting that burglary, vehicle crime and disrupting the supply of drugs has to be the police’s priority and they couldn’t dedicate unlimited resources to arresting street drinkers because that’s all they would be doing.
They have also been trying to introduce changes to the environment to make it ‘less attractive’ for the drinkers including targeting off licences and persuading them not to sell super strength alcohol.
Despite being offered rehabilitation and accommodation in central Croydon the drinkers return to Thornton Heath to congregate.
Officers have also repeatedly asked the council and MP for the seats to be removed and bricks on the wall at the Clocktower
redesigned to make it difficult to sit on but months have passed and the council still hasn’t made a decision.
There is now a petition to get the benches removed but the drinkers are bringing their own fold up chairs (pictured).