POLICE took action against persistent street drinkers in Westbury Market Place when they arrested a man last Friday afternoon.
The Trowbridge man, along with three other males and one female had been ordered by police officers to leave Westbury town centre earlier in the day after being “very loud, very abusive and swearing in front of young children,” said PCSO Neil Turnbull. The group had been drinking outside the public toilets in the High Street car park at about midday when they were instructed to disperse.
The white male, who has a close shaved head and was wearing a white jumper and blue jeans was given a map showing the area from which he was banned under a ‘Section 27’ dispersal order.
He returned twice to the town centre and was told to leave by police. On a third occasion the man became aggressive, raising his fist towards officers. He was arrested by four officers near to the One Stop store in Westbury Market Place at around 1.00pm.
Town and Wiltshire councillor Mike Cuthbert-Murray was eating lunch outside the Lopes Arms when the incident occurred. He said, “The guy came out of the churchyard on his own; there was a police car parked outside The Crown so he ran down Maristow Street. There was a police Landrover at the other end, so he ran back into the Market Place towards the One Stop.
“Police officers just turned up from everywhere, you just saw coppers running from all directions.”
The councillor, who is emerging as a leading force behind a campaign to crack down on street drinking in the town said, “We want this town cleaned up, and we want it cleaned up quick.”
PCSO Turnbull said that the man arrested, along with his fellow street drinkers, were to be referred to the Wiltshire anti-social beh-aviour panel at their next meeting.
He said, “It’s about putting steps in place to get a correct response to different types of behaviour.” The issue of street drinking, he added, was one which required a multi-agency response which provided support as well as penalties. “These people are often victims as well,” he said.
Writing on westburytownforums.com, town beat manager PC Nick Holt said that most of the persistent drinkers in the town were known to local social services as vulnerable adults.
“The problem is more complicated than just a drunken idiot,” said PC Holt, adding, “Currently the council are attempting to institute a ‘vulnerable adult’ alert system, as I understand it once this has been actioned, a social worker will be obliged to attend and deal with the situation. I am fully behind this, but from experience they are heavily over stretched and with the best will in the world I can’t see this working as the system currently is set-up.”
Inspector David Minty of Warminster and Westbury Police said, “I fully understand how anti-social behaviour can affect the quality of life of the residents of a town, particularly those that see it on a daily basis.
“Clearly the police play an integral part in dealing with the offenders, and we will continue to deal with them in a robust manner. However, we are also aware that enforcement alone is rarely the answer, and I look forward to working with the town council and our other partners in bringing this problem to a conclusion and restoring a quality of life to those who have been affected.”