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NEW POWERS FOR CRIME FIGHTERS TO TACKLE PUBLIC DRINKING AND PROSTITUTION

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New powers to help crime fighters tackle the nuisance and disorder ...
New powers to help crime fighters tackle the nuisance and disorder

caused by public drinking and prostitution will come into force this

weekend.

Regulations, contained in the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001,

will come into effect from Saturday, 1st September. They will, for

the first time, make posting prostitutes' cards in telephone boxes a

criminal offence and set out procedures for local authorities to ban

drinking in specified public places.

Home office minister Keith Bradley said:

'Anti-social drinking on the streets and prostitutes' cards in phone

boxes can damage the image of an area and be a nuisance for local

residents and businesses.

'Local authorities will now be able to target public places where

drinking in public has led to nuisance, annoyance or disorder for

residents, businesses and licencees alike. More than 100 areas

already have bylaws to curb public drinking - the regulations will

ensure consistency of enforcement in these and other areas.

'Prostitutes' cards in phone boxes are offensive and create a bad

impression on young people and foreign visitors. It is an illegal

practice and these regulations will help law enforcers take action

against it.'

The regulations coming into force mean that:

- Local authorities will be able to ban drinking in designated public

places where they are satisfied that nuisance, annoyance or disorder

is associated with it. In designated areas a police officer can

require a person to stop drinking and surrender alcohol in their

possession. Local authorities are required to consult with parish

councils, the police and licence holders before designating areas.

- Police will have the power of arrest for anyone placing an

advertisement relating to prostitution in a public telephone box. The

offence can be extended to other public structures such as bus

shelters. The maximum penalty for the offence will be a fine of up to

£5,000 or six months in prison.

Liverpool and Manchester are already using bylaws that include

confiscation of alcohol in specific public places.

Cllr Jane Chevis, chair of the Local Government Association's

public protection executive said:

'The Local Government Association has a keen interest in seeing

public disorder dealt with effectively and is always supportive of

measures to improve consistency of enforcement, in whatever sphere.

We therefore welcome the streamlining of the previously cumbersome

process that local authorities had to go through if they wished to

introduce bylaws to control drinking in public.

We shall be working closely with the home office on the

implementation of this provision.'

Notes

1. The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 received royal assent on

11th May 2001.

2. One of the Criminal Justice and Police Act measures, which is not

yet in force, will allow the police to issue fixed penalty notices

for a number of disorder offences, including the new offence of

failing to comply with a police officer's requirement to not drink or

surrender alcohol in a designated place.

3. The home office published an action plan entitled 'Tackling

Alcohol Related Crime, Disorder and Nuisance' on 3rd August 2000

which sets out objectives for taking forward programmes of work to

tackle under-age drinking, alcohol-related violence and public

drunkenness.

4. The 2000 British Crime survey shows that victims judged that

offenders were under the influence of alcohol in 40 per cent of

incidents.

5. Around 13 million prostitutes' cards are produced every year - BT

estimates that it removes 150,000 cards in central London every year.

We estimate that more than 700 'phone boxes in central London are

affected by this problem, as well as many in Brighton. BT estimates

that it spends£250,000 each year on additional cleaning costs to

remove cards.

6. Prostitution itself is not a criminal offence. The principal aim

of the criminal law in this area is to deal with the serious nuisance

and distress caused to the public when prostitutes ply their trade in

the street and to penalise those who seek to encourage, control or

exploit the prostitution of others.

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