This summer, under the banner Croydon Safer Streets, the Safer Croydon Partnership (SCP) will be targeting persistent offenders in drinking and begging hotspots around the Town Centre.
Over the next few weeks new designated ‘Alcohol-Free Zone’ signs will be placed across the town, reinforcing the message that street drinking is an offence.
All the agencies involved will be working more closely together to share information to help street drinkers get more support. Those who continue to drink in the streets will face enforcement action.
The campaign draws on experience gained last summer when the SCP ran a trial that saw Croydon Council, Croydon Business Improvement District (BID), the Metropolitan Police and Westminster Drug Project (WDP) working together to help those struggling with alcohol addiction and to tackle persistent street drinking and begging.
The campaign resulted in 185 people being referred for help with substance abuse, 47 arrests and more than 1,250 alcohol seizures
Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for safety and justice, said: “The Safer Streets initiative aims to help and support people who are reliant on alcohol and to make Croydon feel safer for everyone.
“Many people find street drinkers and beggars intimidating and it can seriously impact on how safety in the Town Ccentre is perceived by those who work, live and socialise here.”
WDP's senior outreach practitioner, Suzanne Morgan, said: “We are targeting specific areas such as George Street and Queens Gardens giving advice and information to people drinking and also working with local businesses to inform them how to report street drinking.
“We are also targeting repeat offenders, who are offered multi-agency support to help them address their addictions.”
The launch follows on from an SCP-backed voluntary initiative where a number of Town Centre off-licences have removed cheap, high-strength beer and cider from sale to help beat alcohol addiction and to tackle drink-related crime and disorder.
Businesses have already been urged to support the initiative by reporting any sightings or experiences of antisocial behaviour through Croydon BID. The information can then be used to gauge the full extent of the problem and to help identify ‘hot spot’ areas so that resources can be adequately deployed and individuals engaged with appropriately.
Matthew Sims, Croydon BID chief executive, which is funding the new Alcohol Free Zone signs said: “Clearly, persistent street drinking and begging are long-term issues and it is in everyone’s interests to find workable solutions to address the problems this sort of behaviour brings, both to the individuals concerned and the public at large.
“Everyone can play an important role in helping to tackle these issues by alerting their local Safer Neighbourhood Team, via the police 101 contact reporting number, to any sightings or problems directly experienced.”
Chief Inspector Pete McGarry, who leads Croydon’s Safer Neighbourhoods Teams, said: “The Croydon Safer Streets initiative will provide a long-term solution to begging and street drinking within the Town Centre, with all agencies working in partnership to resolve issues with particular locations or individuals.
“Our focus will still be on enforcement, and those begging or drinking alcohol in the no-drinking zones can still expect to be arrested. However, we’ll continue to refer any individuals that are willing to engage, and with this new and improved, joined-up approach it should mean that we can help to divert more people away from alcohol and begging, and find a lasting solution to this problem.”