SPECIAL REPORT: Street drinking could be banned in Harrogate under new law as battle intensifies

Street drinking and public drug abuse could be banned in Harrogate under a new law.
Street drinking and public drug abuse could be banned in Harrogate under a new law.
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Street drinking and public drug abuse could be banned in Harrogate under a new law as the battle to combat the problem intensifies.

Street drinking and public drug abuse could be banned in Harrogate under a new law as the battle to combat the problem intensifies.
The borough council is considering introducing a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to tackle the growing number of “intimidating” street drinkers in the town centre after fed-up residents and business owners called for action.
The authority could also use the legislation to ban drug taking in public places, which would help clampdown on the so called legal highs, which, according to police, often go hand-in-hand with street drinking.
Mel Greaves, anti-social behaviour co-ordinator at Harrogate Borough Council, unveiled the plans at a busy public meeting about the town’s street drinking problem last Tuesday.
He said: ”This is a longer term solution. It’s certainly not the panacea of all things but it means the police can take action more quickly.”
A PSPO is a new measure which protects residents against activities carried out in a public space that have a detrimental effect on the local community’s quality of life.
If it’s supported by the public, the order would enable the council to impose restrictions within any open area, with the aim of preventing individuals or groups committing anti-social behaviour in public spaces.
A breach of the PSPO is a criminal offence and can result in a £100 fixed penalty fine. More serious offences can lead to prosecution with a maximum fine of £1,000.
Mr Greaves said: “The key to this is drinking alcohol in a public space is not illegal. The behaviour exhibited by persons who have consumed alcohol can however lead to enforcement action and arrest.
“The PSPO requires a person stop drinking alcohol if they don’t comply. The police can then arrest that person or their alcohol could be confiscated.“
The PSPO would replace two Designated Public Place Orders in Harrogate that were put in place under old legislation to restrict anti-social drinking at Montpellier Hill and the war memorial.
Mr Greaves said: “In my view the problem when those were put in place is the areas were too small and it just moved the problems around. The PSPO would cover virtually the whole of the town centre. Areas that have the potential to attract problems with street drinking can also be included in that as the new legislation states even if you think it is ‘at risk’ of happening, where as before you had to prove it was already taking place.”
In the Harrogate district, the Crime and Disorder Corporate Group would lead on the final consideration, consultation, making of the order and its publicity. To prevent multiple PSPOs across an area, this group would co-ordinate other service providers to ensure any single order includes restrictions covering other problems such as littering, begging and fly posting.
Mr Greaves said: “North Yorkshire Police has formally asked for a PSPO to be considered and this process has started, however, we have estimated that if all goes well it will take at least 12 weeks to fully consider and adopt a PSPO. This timescale starts from the date the problem solving group agrees a PSPO is an effective and proportionate solution to the problem and refers it to Harrogate Borough Council.”