A Public Spaces Protection order (PSPO) for alcohol control across the isle has been extended for nine months and will then be combined with a PSPO to curb antisocial behaviour.
The PSPO, which was introduced in 2017 to cover all of Thanet with the exception of Monkton and Acol, means a restriction on carrying and consuming alcohol when a person is deemed to be causing, or may cause, anti social behaviour.
The extension brings the expiry of the alcohol PSPO into line with an anti-social behaviour PSPO which is due to expire on July 31 2024. This order was brought in during 2018, and renewed in 2021, to combat antisocial behaviour in Margate and Ramsgate after hundreds of complaints and enforcement action against people spitting, urinating and defecating in public areas as well as jumping between buildings.
The asb order covered Margate Central and Central Harbour in Ramsgate, parts of Eastcliff in Ramsgate and Cliftonville West.
When the two PSPO’s expire a combined ASB and Alcohol PSPO will be applied for.
A Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) is an order made by the Local Authority if it is satisfied on reasonable grounds that two conditions are met. These are:
- That activities being carried out within a public place have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality or it is likely they will.
- That the effect, or likely effect, of these activities is, or is likely to be, of a persistent or continuing nature, such as to make the activities unreasonable.
Cllr Heather Keen, who is the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “It (PSPO) was introduced to tackle anti-social behaviour and public disorder related to alcohol consumption in public places and was requested by Kent Police.
“This includes street drinking, public intoxication and disturbances caused by alcohol related activities.
“The PSPO has been successful in reducing these activities and improving the wellbeing of the community.”
Cllr Keen said over the last three years there has been an increase in antisocial behaviour and public disorder related to drinking alcohol. Since January this year police have issued 23 fixed penalty notices for PSPO breaches. She added that education and communication were also ‘key’ to the PSPO.
Cllr Tricia Austin said she supported the extension but raised the issue of continued problems in Ramsgate town centre.
She said: “We have still quite a serious problem with street drinkers. May of those people are known to the police and our officers but we do not seem to be seeing any progress in the support that those people are getting.
She added: “We know that the police are mostly trying to work on the basis of education and it’s not that we want them to leap in with draconian punishments but I am concerned that we need in some way to beef up what we are doing where we have problem street drinkers.”
Cllr Keen said she knew there were still problem areas and the nine month pause until the combined order is made would give time to look at those areas and what changes to the order could be made.
The current alcohol PSPO lists offences as:
“All persons are prohibited from consuming alcohol and must dispose of any vessel believed to contain alcohol, when asked to do so by an authorised person, when it is believed that they are either committing or likely to commit Anti-Social Behaviour in a public place.
An authorised person can require any person:
a) To not consume alcohol or anything the authorised person reasonably believes to be alcohol, in sealed or unsealed vessels.
b) To surrender anything in the person’s possession which is, or the authorised person reasonably believes to be, alcohol or likely to be used as a container for alcohol.
Any surrendered items are to be retained by the authorised person and safely disposed of as appropriate.”
Poor health related to alcohol
In 2021/22 there were 1,100 hospital admissions for alcohol specific conditions with 30 of those being for people aged under 18. There were an additional 3,600 admissions for alcohol related conditions. In 2021 there were 72 deaths in Thanet due to alcohol related conditions.