CONTROVERSIAL plans to give police new powers to crack down on alcohol-related bad behaviour could be rolled out across Bournemouth.
Under new proposals to go before Bournemouth Borough Council’s Cabinet next week, a Designated Public Place Order (DPPO) – which gives police discretionary powers to confiscate alcohol in public places – could be rolled out across the borough.
Currently, there is a DPPO in place in the centre of Bournemouth, Boscombe and Charminster.
However, an extension would draw in the rest of the area, with police able to arrest or fine those who fail to comply with the restrictions of the order.
Councillor David Smith, cabinet member for planning and environment, said: “This is something that we already have in place across certain parts of Bournemouth.
“We started out with the town centre before including Boscombe, but then the drinking moved to Springbourne. Sometime later we added Charminster.
“We started to look at extending it to other areas, such as between Bournemouth and Boscombe, but then traders in Southbourne told us they had problems with drinking in Fishermans Walk, and there were problems with students in Winton, and so in the end we thought it was ridiculous to draw up those lines. It may as well cover the whole borough.”
He added: “I’d like to emphasise that a DPPO does not mean that it is an offence to drink in a public space in Bournemouth and we are not looking to stop people from consuming alcohol whilst enjoying a quiet picnic on the beach.
“However, for the minority who cause anti-social behaviour by street drinking, the police would be able to exercise their powers to confiscate alcohol anywhere in the town.”
John Coulston, a trustee of Michael House, said he feared that the homeless may be targeted by the plans.
“I am concerned that homeless people and those with alcohol abuse problems could be harassed,” he said.
“As a discretionary power, it does depend on the police officer at the time and how that power is interpreted, so although I can see that many people will welcome it, I am worried.”
Moe to tackle anti-social behaviour
THE move to tackle anti-social drinking in public places comes after police noted a rise in street drinking.
Local authorities looking to cover areas of the town with a DPPO must be able to prove that there is a problem with disorder sparked by alcohol.
And Bournemouth Borough Council has highlighted a number of ‘drinking hot spots’ (see left) where DPPOs are often issued.
Superintendent Charlie Eggar, Dorset Police, said: “A DPPO is a discretionary power and the police do not have to apply it in all circumstances.
“One has been in place covering Bournemouth town centre for some time and is used to deal with those drinking and acting in an anti-social manner.
“By taking a boroughwide approach it will be clear to members of the public where the power applies and allows our officers to adopt the same approach in all parts of Bournemouth.”
A report on the findings of a public consultation held in November 2013 will go before the Cabinet on Wednesday.
Although the report has not yet been made publically available online, the Daily Echo can reveal that, of 621 replies received from Bournemouth, 85 per cent were in favour of implementing the borough-wide order.
A further 108 replies were received across a range of off-licences, pubs, hotels and restaurants.
Of those, 96 per cent were in favour of the scheme. Overall, 89 per cent of responses supported the initiative.
Of the 11 per cent who rejected the borough-wide DPPO, 75 per cent felt that the existing DPPO areas shouldn’t be expanded into any other part of the town.
The reasons for this opposition fall broadly into two areas; those who feel the order won’t be effective because it will not be enforced by the police, and those who believe that the order will be over-policed and will infringe upon peaceful alcohol drinking in public spaces.
Neighbouring authorities were also consulted.
East Dorset District Council had no concerns about the order, while councillors in Christchurch added: “Should a borough-wide DPPO for Bournemouth be implemented and we have issues with displacement, we will be able to work together to identify solutions.”
The council don’t hold figures for arrests made under the DPPO legislation currently.
The order is used mainly informally by the police to confiscate alcohol and arrests are not usually required.
These areas have been identified by the council as having a high rate of drinking in public places.
Bournemouth town centre