Croydon council tackle town centre-begging and drinking

Warning: Croydon Council's message to street drinkers.

Warning: Croydon Council’s message to street drinkers Photo: flick -JD Mack.

Croydon council’s campaign to reduce street drinking and begging has seen a promising decrease in the number of thefts, robberies and shoplifting since its introduction back in April. The campaign – which was initiated between the Safer Croydon Partnership and Croydon Business Improvement District, has seen a 6% reduction in theft, 8% less robberies and a 9% decline in shoplifting.

Councillor Simon Hoar, cabinet member for Community Safety and Public Protection, said: “We welcome the campaign’s success so far, and will continue to work together to make Croydon a welcoming place for everyone.” He added, “Street begging and drinking has to stop. We will tackle these problems and help to support these people to get off the streets.”

So far, the campaign has seen 18 arrests, 196 alcohol seizures and 14 fixed penalty notices. However, anti-social behaviour still continues to be a problem in Croydon, and The Metropolitan Police are taking measures to identify repeat offenders who are begging or drinking on the streets. Acting Chief Inspector Pete McGarry warned that: “those who choose to continue with drinking or begging should be in no doubt that we will continue to target them and we’ll be looking to apply for asbos against the most persistent offenders.”

The initiative also aims to bring police, local businesses and residents into better communication about Croydon’s begging and street drinking problems. Reported persistent offenders may also find themselves on a hit list of top 10 beggars and street drinkers as compiled by the police, whereby enforcement action may be taken.

The initiative’s zero-tolerance approach also offers support and advice to help people with addiction and substance abuse issues, in the hope that they can turn their lives around and stay off the streets. ACI (Acting Chief Inspector) Pete McGarry added: “We’re also referring relevant people we come into contact with to the Westminster Drugs Project so that they can get access to advice and support to help them turn their lives around.”

Matthew Sims, CEO of Croydon Bid, an organisation that represents 580 Town Centre businesses and works to improve the image, safety and business interest in Croydon said: “This is a tremendous start to the partnership’s drive to clean up our streets and make the town more welcoming to all those who use it. This type of anti-social behaviour can be intimidating and off-putting, and for the future success and growth of our town, it’s important that these issues are tackled up-front so that everyone who comes here feels safe and comfortable at all times.”

This work will progress  beyond the campaign with access to treatment and support services planned, and working with licensees to encourage responsible alcohol sales.

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