Staple Hill bans street drinking
A BAN on street drinking in Staple Hill High Street has been brought in after a rise in assaults, drug dealing and crowds of up to 100 people gathering.
Police say the Public Spaces Protection Order, which is in force on Friday and Saturday nights from 9pm to 4am, is in response to increasing levels of anti-social behaviour in the area.
Over the past two months there have been nine separate incidents of assaults and public order offences, according to the Avon and Somerset force.
They include the stabbing of a man in his 20s near the junction with Acacia Avenue on May 7. Police arrested two 18-year-old men afterwards on suspicion of affray in relation to the incident – one remains on police bail as investigations continue, while the other has been released without charge.
Police say there have been reports of verbal abuse, fighting, dealing in "controlled substances" and some evidence of people on the street carrying knives and other weapons.
They say some pubs in the area are now closing at 10pm, which has led to "significant numbers of people buying alcohol in off licences and continuing drinking in the High Street".
"This is leading to larger groups gathering, fighting and general nuisance behaviour," said a spokesperson.
Neighbourhood Police Inspector Clive Summerill said: “We’ve been working closely with South Gloucestershire Council to deal with these ongoing issues, which have become more prevalent since the easing of lockdown measures in the spring.
"Unfortunately, a small minority of people are continuing to engage in public disorder and anti-social behaviour, which is having a negative impact on the local community.
“This PSPO gives us additional powers to tackle the root cause of the criminality we’ve been experiencing.”
The order bans street drinking between the junction with Lower Station Road, at the Bristol end of the High Street, and the junction of Broad Street and Park Road.
It will be enforced by police officers, who can impose fixed penalty £100 fines. People can also be prosecuted under the Anti-social Behaviour, Police and Crime Act.
South Gloucestershire Council licensing officers are working with pubs and bars to re-establish the area's Pub Watch and 'behave or be banned' schemes.
Council cabinet member for communities Rachael Hunt said: “Street drinking and associated anti-social behaviour is affecting other members of the community as well as businesses which have already struggled so much over the past year."
Staple Hill and Mangotsfield ward councillor Ian Boulton said stories of large groups gathering outside late-night shops and causing trouble had been circulating for some time but police were unable to act until residents started to officially report incidents.
He said: "We need all incidents of criminal or antisocial behaviour to be reported to the police, as they need to know about developing problems before they become a crisis."
He urged people to report incidents by calling 101, or 999 if a crime was in progress.