Booze ban drives out town yobs

NEAALM110615D2 - Beat officer Paul Toon in Hall Om Wong park Kimberley
NEAALM110615D2 - Beat officer Paul Toon in Hall Om Wong park Kimberley
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AN ORDER that outlawed drinking on the streets of Kimberley has ‘significantly’ reduced anti-social behaviour, according to a local police officer.

Drinking was banned in the town centre and parks in April after masses of complaints from residents and beat manager Paul Toon said the move has had a ‘dramatic effect’ on crime figures in the area.

“It’s going very well and long may it continue,” he said.

“We’ve confiscated a lot of drink and the message seems to be getting through. It’s certainly been extremely worthwhile for the town.”

The alcohol ban, called a Designated Public Place Order (DPPO), gives police officers the power to take drinks off people if they are causing anti-social behaviour, or if the officer believes they are likely to cause anti-social behaviour.

Pc Toon, who has worked in Kimberley for nine years, fought a campaign for five years to get the ban in place.

He said people were complaining about youths causing a nuisance on the parks, and being intimidating in the town centre, particularly around the precinct in Greenhills Road.

In his role as beat manager he also felt youths drinking in the town’s parks used to deter families, and shoppers in the town centre would have to ‘run the gauntlet’ because of intimidating groups of teenagers.

“We used to get large groups having basically an outdoor party,” he added. “And it’s the aftermath of it all as well – bottles thrown about, cans all over the floor.”

The new powers were brought in after an overwhelming response from residents backing the DPPO during a public consultation.

And Pc Toon revealed part of the problems without the order was that when officers moved drinkers away from town they would go to the parks, and when they moved them out of the parks, they would go back in to the town.

“You need to eradicate it altogether so you are not displacing it,” he said.

Crime levels traditionally increase in Kimberley when the weather improves because of people drinking around the parks. But Pc Toon said he remains hopeful that with a ban on drinking, incidents of anti-social behaviour will be kept to a minimum.

He added: “Anti-social behaviour figures are bound to go up, but hopefully we’ll be able to resolve it with extra patrols in the late afternoons and early evenings.”