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Drinking alcohol on Preston streets will be offence in some circumstances

Posted on - 25th June, 2024 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Friargate, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News, Winckley Square
Fishergate in Preston city centre Pic: Blog Preston
Fishergate in Preston city centre Pic: Blog Preston

Drinking alcohol on the streets of Preston city centre is now an offence – if it is deemed to be causing a public nuisance.

The move is part of a raft of new rules designed to combat anti-social behaviour.

The prohibition – which will not apply to the outdoor areas of licensed premises – has been approved by Preston City Council’s cabinet.

Read more: Long-awaited refurbishment for Preston’s famous row of red phone boxes

Under the agreed Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), on-the-spot fines of up to £100 will be dished out to anybody who fails to stop swigging on the street once they have been asked to do so by an “authorised officer”.   That individual can be a council worker or a police officer – who will also be able to demand that an individual hands over their drink.

Although not an automatic ban on street drinking, the regulations will give wide-ranging powers of discretion to order people to stop drinking alcohol on the city’s streets.

As part of the broader suite of measures, use of other “intoxicating substances” will also be outlawed in all circumstances – as will urinating or defecating anywhere other than in a public toilet.

There will be a catch-all ban on acting “in an anti-social manner likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress”, while pitching and occupying a tent in a way that could pose a safety risk to others will also be prohibited.

The PSPO contains eight rules in total – breaches of any of which could attract the £100 fixed penalty notice if a person does not have a “reasonable excuse” for falling foul of the regulations.   If they refuse to pay and are subsequently convicted by magistrates, they would be liable for a maximum punishment of a ‘level 3’ fine of up to £1,000.

The area covered by the PSPO runs from East Cliff in the south west of the city through to the A6 London Road in the east – and from Avenham Lane in the south to Walker Street in the north.

It therefore includes the Flag Market, Winckley Square, the full lengths of Fishergate, Friargate, Church Street and Corporation Street and the main and side entrances to the railway station.

City council cabinet member for environment and community safety Freddie Bailey told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the PSPO was “vital to ensure we reduce anti-social behaviour and crime”.

He added that the authority has “a really good working relationship with the police”.

The police already have powers to deal with many of the nuisances included within the PSPO under public order and public decency laws. However, those enforcement powers would not be open to council officers without the new order.

Mark Whittle, manager of Preston Business Improvement District (BID), said of the new rules:  “Businesses have long been calling for additional support in reducing anti-social behaviours, which nobody wants to witness – whether they are running a business, working in the city centre, or visiting.

“The PSPO will provide the authorities with more tools to tackle certain behaviours which are detrimental to people using the city centre.”

A public consultation into the regulations was carried out earlier this year. Twenty-four businesses, residents and visitors responded and raised no objections – with the majority explicitly supporting the proposals and citing examples of their own experiences of anti-social behaviour in Preston which would have been prevented by the PSPO.

Evidence to support the new prohibitions was provided by Lancashire Police, Preston BID and the city council itself. It included data drawn from reports of crime and anti-social behaviour, along with the results of audits of activities in public spaces that are having – or would be likely to have – a detrimental impact upon the local community.

PSPOs have to be reviewed every three years.

The new rules in full

In the area covered by the Public Space Protection Order:

1. No persons shall consume alcohol or have an open alcohol container within the prohibition area after having been requested by an authorised officer to cease consumption of alcohol or hand over the container (unless in an otherwise lawful premises).

2. No persons shall ingest, inhale, inject, smoke, or otherwise use intoxicating substances within the prohibition area.

3. No persons shall urinate or defecate in any public place (other than a public toilet) within the prohibition area.

4. No persons shall discard hypodermic needles or syringes in any public place within the prohibition area (except in an appropriate sharps container).

5. No persons shall occupy a tent or other temporary structure in the prohibition area in a manner likely to create a health and safety risk for other people.

6. No persons shall obstruct a building entrance or exit, stairwell, or highway in the prohibition area after being asked to move by an authorised officer.

7. No persons shall use sound amplification equipment in any place (other than premises or vehicles where these activities are permitted under their licence conditions and with the expressed permission of the licence holder ) within the prohibition area at a volume or in a manner that causes harassment,
alarm or distress to any person and fail, without reasonable excuse, to reduce the volume or stop using the amplification equipment if requested to do so by an authorised officer.

8. No persons shall act or incite others to act in an anti-social manner likely to cause harassment, alarm, or distress to any person within a public space within the prohibition area.

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