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New powers to tackle nuisance drinkers in Southwark

Southwark Council and the police have new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour caused by people drinking in public places starting this week.

Cllr Nick Stanton
Cllr Nick Stanton with one of the signs that have been installed across Southwark

An Alcohol Control Area came into effect on Monday across most of Southwark; only Dulwich is excluded from the new measure.

Police now have the power to ask people to stop drinking if they are involved in – or have the potential to cause – a nuisance or anti-social behaviour.

Anyone failing to comply with an officer's request can have their alcohol confiscated, be arrested and/or receive a maximum fine of 500.

The powers will also be given to eight specially accredited community wardens. The council says that wardens will only use these powers for pre-planned targeted operations.

"It is important for people to understand that these laws are not a ban on drinking alcohol in public," says Cllr Nick Stanton, leader of the council.

"The new laws are not intended to stop people from enjoying a social drink in a park, celebrating at festivals and sporting events or drinking outside a pub in space set aside by pub landlords.

"For the overwhelming majority of Southwark residents and visitors, these laws will have little direct impact. But for the small minority whose drinking fuels violence and anti-social behaviour, we now have powers to deal with the problem."

Southwark's borough police commander Chief Superintendent Malcolm Tillyer adds: "Enforcement will be targeted in hotspots where we have identified high levels of alcohol related disorder. Some hotspot areas have been identified through visual auditing carried out during the past few months.

"We are also working closely with our colleagues in neighbouring boroughs to make sure we are not simply shifting these problems to other areas."

Lambeth Council introduced a drinking control area around Waterloo three years ago.

Signs have been put up throughout Southwark to let people know when they are in the alcohol control area. Community wardens will also hand out credit card sized leaflets about the alcohol control area to anyone drinking in public places, not just those causing a nuisance.

People are encouraged to report alcohol-related anti-social behaviour on 020 7525 5777.

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