A GROUND-BREAKING initiative to tackle street-drinking in parts of Bradford city centre is to be extended following a successful three-month trial.
In June, West Yorkshire Police teamed up with Bradford’s Business Improvement District (BID) and City Centre Beat (CCB), the business crime reduction partnership, to launch the scheme, which uses legal powers in a new and innovative way, combined with advanced forensic technology, to prevent the supply of “super-strength” alcohol to street drinkers.
The project, dubbed Operation Straitpark, has worked so well that Bradford BID and CCB have now agreed to fund it for a further 12 months.
BID chairman Ian Ward said: “The operation is clearly having an impact and with street drinking and the anti-social behaviour it feeds being of such concern to the public and businesses, we felt it was essential to help the Police continue their good work.”
Inspector Pete Hall, who leads the city centre Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) said: “Since the launch of the scheme, officers have noted a significant reduction in drinking, shop thefts and anti-social behaviour and some known drinkers themselves commented on how difficult it is to get served from certain establishments.
“We’re extremely grateful for the support of the BID and CCB in helping us to continue the operation for another 12 months.
“We know this is changing behaviour and we are confident that by extending the scheme we can continue to work together with retailers to ensure it has a lasting effect.”
BID manager Jonny Noble said: “There’s no doubt that the use of SmartWater and these new powers is working. Apparently even the Council’s cleansing team say they have noticed less mess being left in these areas.
“There has been a good deal of praise for both the project and the way the city centre’s neighbourhood policing team have stuck to the task. But we know there is work still to do and, on behalf of the BID’s levypaying members, we are keen to ensure it continues to make progress on one of the key SAFE pillar objectives in our Business Plan.”
Catherine Riley, chairman of City Centre Beat, said: “Several businesses in the area have reported that the number of people hanging around and the amount of drinking and bad behaviour have reduced, so it’s clear that Operation Straitpark is becoming the positive force we hoped it would.
“Problem drinkers create both a nuisance and a negative impression which can have a damaging effect on the city centre economy, so well done to the NPT for making this work and long may their success continue.”
The scheme utilises “SmartWater” forensic liquid to trace where disorderly drinkers are buying their “super-strength” alcohol – beer and lagers which are more than 6.5 per cent alcohol by volume (abv) – to help them educate retailers and work with them to cut off the supply.
Bradford’s unique scheme uses legal powers, that exist under anti-social behaviour legislation, to tackle the problem.
Alcohol retailers in the ‘top-of-town’, around North Parade and the Oastler Centre area, have agreed to mark their stock with the SmartWater liquid which creates a unique forensic colour code for each business and a direct link back to the alcohol sold from its premises.
The liquid is virtually invisible in normal light but each colour glows distinctly under ultraviolet light. City centre officers have been equipped with UV detection lights so when street drinkers are found with the cans, they can trace where they were bought.
The police then offer advice and support to the retailer concerned to encourage them to help prevent crime and disorder and public nuisance.
For the first time in the UK, police in Bradford issue Community Protection Warnings (CPWs) to retailers followed by Community Protection Notices (CPNs) which, if breached, lead to prosecution and severe penalties.
*Members of the public who encounter anti-social behaviour in the city centre are urged to report it as soon as possible by calling 101 or 999 in the case of emergency.