House of Lords vote to derail ‘street drinkers’ legislation

HALL PLACE: Street drinkers pictured in Spalding town centre during August 2012.
HALL PLACE: Street drinkers pictured in Spalding town centre during August 2012.
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A new legal step that would have given Spalding police greater powers to tackle street drinkers was thrown out by the House of Lords.

The Government wants to replace ASBOs (anti-social behaviour orders) with IPNAs (injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance), but was defeated in the Lords as peers said the powers were too wide ranging.

Spalding community policing inspector Jim Tyner, who contributed to the legislation, is “disappointed” – and MP John Hayes says he doesn’t agree with the Lords’ argument on civil liberties.

Former police chief constable Lord Deer said in the debate the proposed law could apply to noisy children, street preachers, carol singers and nudists – and the wrong wording in the legislation would open the door to “uncertainty, confusion and legal injustice”.

In response to peers’ concerns, Home Office Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach committed to further talks and possible concessions.

Insp Tyner told the Spalding Guardian: “The proposed new legislation is something I have been contributing to, so I am disappointed that the proposals for dealing with street drinkers aren’t being introduced at this time.

“I do understand people’s concerns that there need to be appropriate safeguards in place so that the legislation isn’t misused.

“I have been working closely with colleagues at SHDC (South Holland District Council) and we await the amendments to the law, which are still being debated.”

Spalding police have had successes in clearing street drinkers from areas like Hall Place, but limited powers under a DPPO (designated public place order) often lead to them playing “cat and mouse” rather than handing out on-the-spot fines as Insp Tyner would like.

Mr Hayes said the Government will take a fresh look at the proposals.

He said: “Whenever I hear this cry of civil liberties I am always inclined to wonder about the people taking liberties.”