In response to Steven Foster’s letter and that previous regarding the street drinkers in the town centre I would like to state the following.
In both Steven Foster’s letter and that previous by A. Widdowson, both complain about the street drinkers that congregate on St Peters Hill, yet neither really say why?
Could it be that they just don’t like the look of these people?
Street drinking isn’t just a problem in this town but pretty much every town in the country, owing to the ridiculously cheap prices of booze widely available nearly everywhere you turn.
Has anybody given consideration to the fact that some of these people know nothing else and are battling addiction?
The fact that they stand out on the street in sub-zero temperatures just to drink a can of lager gives you some indication as to how addicted some of them are. I don’t feel intimidated, more sorry.
I believe the alcohol-free zones are misunderstood and slightly confusing. The signs serve as a visual deterrent more than anything.
Generally though, the signs fit into the remit of the designated public place order (DPPO) which the town centre encompasses. The DPPO doesn’t ban drinking full stop in a public place, but it does restrict it.
Let’s be clear though it is not an offence to stand in the street and drink a can of beer. The DPPO empowers the police to request individuals to stop drinking and confiscate any alcohol if problems are occuring. This doesn’t mean though because someone simply doesn’t approve. If the request is refused, the police can issue a fine or ultimately make an arrests.
The DPPO power is not intended to disrupt peaceful activities but to address nuisance or annoying behaviour associated with the consumption of alcohol in a public place.
The question has to be asked if they weren’t drinking but still congregating on St Peters Hill would people still whinge? I guess so because sadly people think they look unsightly and as such are regarded as misfits of society.
If someone was simply enjoying a glass of wine with a picnic in a public place I bet no one would even bat an eye lid.
Yet if the police came along and intervened I expect there would be an uproar claiming abuse of power. This example is no different in principle.