Police bid to clear drunken youths from the streets

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STREETS blighted by drunken youths who intimidate local residents with “status” dogs and engage in other anti-social behaviour could be cleaned up as a result of police applying for an alcohol exclusion zone.

Officers who patrol the Shiregreen area of Sheffield have compiled a report which includes a catalogue of incidents which they say are fuelled by the abuse of drink and drugs.

Police want the council to impose a so-called designated public place order which would effectively make all streets in the community an alcohol exclusion zone, making it an offence if an individual refuses an officer’s request to stop drinking.

It’s a response to community pressure for more to be done to tackle anti-social behaviour, with support for action from the council’s North East Area Assembly.

Already steps are being taken for parts of Woodhouse to be covered by a designated public place order.

Insp Simon Leake, who leads the Shiregreen safer neighbourhood team, is today (Thursday) submitting a 40-page document to the council’s licensing committee, setting out the effect making an order could have on the quality of life in Shiregreen.

He is supported by several residents who have made written statements and local councillors who have submitted letters in support of the police application to ban the drinking of alcohol in any public place.

In one instance Insp Leake said he saw groups of young people in Nethershire Lane “with ‘status’ dogs which they hardly had control of, drinking beers from cans, messing around and generally intimidating passers-by”.

He adds: “Shiregreen doesn’t just have a problem with people misusing alcohol and causing anti-social behaviour. It has a problem with people renting out social housing and using it to cultivate cannabis.

“That cannabis ends up in the pockets of young people that we search. We search those young people because we have found them on the street and they have got themselves into trouble. In most cases we find that alcohol is a factor and that it goes hand in hand with drug misuse.

“There are some families who are persistent problem-causers, whether that is putting their neighbours through the hell of persistent anti-social behaviour or breaking into people’s houses or cars.

“Again there is a clear thread of alcohol misuse within these families. I feel that Shiregreen deserves a change and it is my view that an order such as an alcohol exclusion zone will have the desired effect of showing the community that we will not stand for such behaviour.

“We want to see Shiregreen back to what it was, a community with a sense of unity, which will stand up to wrongdoers and knows it can rely on the support of its police and responsible agencies.”

According to police figures there were almost 1,200 incidents of anti-social behaviour recorded in Shiregreen in the 12 months to December 2010, with many involving people who were “in drink”.

Coun Peter Price, who chairs the North East Area Assembly, says there is “a significant problem relating to the misuse of alcohol on streets and in public places within Shiregreen”.

If the council’s licensing committee support the move, a 28-day consultation exercise will be carried out before any order is officially made.