Anti-social street drinking nearly halves in Worthing town centre

Street drinking
Street drinking

Three orders aimed at cracking down on street drinking, begging and unauthorised camping in Worthing are expected to be extended.

Known as Public Space Protection Orders, the first two cover drinking and begging in the town centre.

The third is in place to stop people – often holidaymakers – from pitching their tents on grassy spots around the town rather than paying for a camp site.

All three orders are due to expire in August and councillors have recommended a three-year extension.

A report to the Adur and Worthing Joint Strategic Committee stated that, since 2015/16, reports of street drinking in the town centre had fallen from 156 cases to 88, a 43 per cent drop.

However, there had been a slight rise in reports of alcohol-related crime, from 385 in 2015/16 to 404 in 2017/18.

Members were assured that the order was only aimed at anti-social drinking.

Sophie Whitehouse, of the Early Help and Wellbeing team, said: “There is a bit of a public misconception that this is a power to prevent drinking in public. That’s not the case at all.

“It’s anti-social drinking, and the power within the order allows authorised officers to ask people to desist from drinking if they believe that continued drinking will lead to anti-social behaviour.”

Ms Whitehouse said the order acted as a ‘very good preventative measure’ and there was strong support from Sussex Police for it to continue.

Inspector Allan Lowe, of the Adur, Worthing and Horsham Prevention Team, advised: “This power is very beneficial in tackling excessive and anti-social drinking amongst our street community.

“If the power was no longer in place, anti-social behaviour is very likely to increase, particularly within Worthing town centre.”  

As for reports about begging, after an initial drop from 24 to 16 after the order was put in place, complaints rose to 28 in 2017/18.

Ms Whitehouse said: “This is very much about behaviour. It’s about people who demonstrate behaviour that intimidates people and make certain areas feel like no-go areas.

“We’ve had lots of complaints in the past from businesses, commercial premises being obstructed, customers being harassed.”

The use of the camping order appeared to have worked, with no complaints received since 2016.

It had been put in place for Heene Cemetery, Brooklands, Beach House Grounds, Windsor Lawns, Denton Gardens, Homefield Park and Steyne Gardens.

Members were told the order was not used against people sleeping rough.

Kevin Jenkins (Con, Gaisford) said: “It’s important that in our armoury we have the ability to challenge behaviours when they are adversely impacting on our communities, whether that’s residents in our town or businesses.”