Wisbech night shelter residents asked how they propose paying fines for street drinking breaches

Fines now an issue for street drinking offenders in Wisbech. But the good news is offences are slowl

Fines now an issue for street drinking offenders in Wisbech. But the good news is offences are slowly dipping - Credit: Archant

Homeless people living in a Wisbech night shelter are receiving visits to find out how they propose paying fixed penalty fines having been caught drinking in parts of the town where it is banned.

The Wisbech Alcohol Partnership – that includes council, police, fire and housing association officials – refers to the challenge of debt recovery in a report to Fenland Council.

Cabinet members Mike Cornwell and David Oliver say officers from the partnership have reviewed the current fixed penalty notice data for breaches of the alcohol related Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO).

These, say the council, help to control alcohol consumption in specific public areas of the town and are also intended to tackle related anti social behaviour.

Both cabinet members in their report note that “inclusion and outreach officers linked to the local night shelter took actions to discuss the breaches directly with any service users that have repeatedly breached the PSPOs.

“This is to help support payment of fines and to ensure individuals are fully aware of the conditions of PSPOs and the importance of not breaching these.”

In a separate report to full council this week, Cllr Oliver says the introduction of PSPOs has seen a big fall in street drinking offences.

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From October 2017 to April this year he says there were 109 recorded incidents on CCTV compared to 291 in the same period the year before.

“This clearly shows the positive outcomes being achieved by the alcohol PSPOs which in turn is helping reducing overall incidents for CCTV,” he said.

“This should be seen as a positive step forward on this long term and challenging community concern.”

The PSPO in specific areas within the district came into effect on October 20 last year. It covers Wisbech locations that the council says have been suffering from long term alcohol misuse.

This includes St Peter’s Gardens, Tillery Field and The Crescent Gardens, as well as a wider covering area covering the town centre.

The PSPO makes it an offence within the three specified locations to have an open container of alcohol. In the wider area, which is based in the main on the previous Wisbech Designated Public Places Order area, officers can require a person to cease drinking alcohol and surrender that alcohol.

The council says it has adopted an approach whereby this requirement will only be made when the alcohol consumption is, has been or is likely to, contribute towards anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Oliver said recently that it was important to note that enforcement is not done in isolation.

He told the May meeting of full council: “Through the Wisbech Alcohol Partnership a co-ordinated one team, multi-agency approach is taken to issues around alcohol and substance misuse which includes offering support packages as well as enforcement”.