BRADFORD Business Improvement District (BID) has teamed up with West Yorkshire Police to launch a new initiative to combat the scourge of street-drinking in parts of the city centre.
The scheme will use legal powers in a new and innovative way, combined with advanced forensic technology, to prevent the supply of “super-strength” alcohol to street drinkers.
It is believed to be the first time these powers, introduced under anti-social behaviour legislation, have been utilised in this way in the UK, making the new initiative unique to Bradford city centre.
The public launch of the scheme, which is also being supported by City Centre Beat, the business crime reduction partnership, took place today [June 14] in Oastler Square, Bradford, where anti-social drinking has been the source of substantial public complaint.
Ian Ward, chairman of Bradford BID, said: “Street drinking is a cause of great concern to both the public and businesses.
“It can lead to serious anti-social behaviour which creates a nuisance for visitors and intimidates shoppers, workers and residents who are forced to go out of their way to avoid it.
“It is a serious blight and we felt supporting this initiative by West Yorkshire Police and their city centre officers was a really effective way to get to grips with the problem.”
The scheme utilises “SmartWater” forensic liquid to trace where disorderly drinkers are buying their “super-strength” alcohol – beer and lagers which are more than 6.5 per cent alcohol by volume (abv) – to help them educate retailers and work with them to cut off the supply.
It was first trialled in the county in Wakefield, where it has been shown to reduce street drinking by around 60 per cent. However, Bradford’s unique scheme uses legal powers, that exist under anti-social behaviour legislation, to tackle the problem in a new way that is believed to be a UK first.
Alcohol retailers in the ‘top-of-town’, around North Parade and the Oastler Centre area, have agreed to mark their stock with the SmartWater liquid which creates a unique forensic colour code for each business and a direct link back to the alcohol sold from its premises.
The liquid is virtually invisible in normal light but each colour glows distinctly under ultraviolet light. City centre officers are being equipped with UV detection lights so when street drinkers are found with the cans, they can trace where they were bought.
The police then offer advice and support to the retailer concerned to encourage them to help prevent crime and disorder and public nuisance.
For the first time in the UK, police in Bradford will issue Community Protection Warnings (CPWs) to retailers followed by Community Protection Notices (CPNs) which, if breached, will lead to prosecution and severe penalties.
Inspector Pete Hall, who leads the city centre Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) said: “We are aware that disorderly street drinking is of concern to many people and the NPT is always proactive in tackling it.
“This new initiative is an important step forward in helping us to work closely with retailers to deter potential crime and nuisance. This is not about catching out retailers but it is important that we work together to tackle the source of these problems and prevent them from spreading.
“The fact that two retailers have already agreed to stop stocking higher-strength beers at all is a very encouraging start. We’re very pleased to be working with Bradford BID on this and we’re grateful for the support of businesses, through the BID, in providing the funding to make this happen.”
Jonny Noble, Bradford BID manager, said: “A major part of our role as a BID is to make the city centre a better place for everyone who uses it.
“Tackling street drinking is a top priority for levy-paying businesses and working with the city centre’s excellent neighbourhood policing team is a brilliant way to have a direct impact on this scourge.”
Catherine Riley, chairman of City Centre Beat which is also part-funding the project, said: “We know that cutting off the very local supply of high strength booze will prevent a small minority of problem drinkers from creating both a nuisance and a negative impression which can have a damaging effect on the city centre economy.
“All city centres have this type of problem but we believe this project can be a positive force in our determined efforts to wipe it out in Bradford.”
The scheme will initially operate on a three-month trial before a decision is made whether to extend it.
**Members of the public who encounter anti-social behaviour in the city centre are urged to report it as soon as possible by calling 101 or 999 in the case of emergency.**
by Leanne Holmes