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Police Given Powers to Seize Alcohol in Public Places

Following a 3 month consultation (that we previously covered from PACT meetings) from April Wolverhampton Police will have the power to seize alcohol from people in public places under a new Designated Public Place Order (DPPO).

Questions raised at PACT meetings where this has been discussed previously included concerns of anglers who enjoy a can of lager while fishing, or families on picnics enjoying a glass of wine running the risk of prosecution. To clarify the Designated Public Place Order (DPPO) is not a drinking ban, but it does give police the powers to seize and dispose of alcohol where the drinking is giving rise to antisocial behaviour.

The city wide DPPO has been put in place after several neighbourhoods, including Wednesfield put applications in for area specific orders due to local concerns.  Anyone failing to surrender either open or unopened alcohol when requested faces the risk of being arrested.

Designated Public Place Orders – Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a Designated Public Place Order?

Designated Public Place Orders (DPPOs) are orders made by local authorities under powers given to them under Section 13 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001.

These powers make it possible for local authorities to designate places where certain restrictions on public drinking will apply and are available in areas that have experienced alcohol-related disorder or nuisance.

The effect of the proposed Order is to grant the police the power to request that a person in a designated area not consume alcohol and to surrender opened containers containing alcohol.

Is this a ban on drinking outside?

It is not intended as a comprehensive ban on drinking in the open air but rather to eliminate alcohol-related nuisance, annoyance and disorder.

There are areas where the Order does not apply, such as on the land / within the curtilage of premises covered by a premises licence or club premises certificate to serve alcohol. This could be a pub beer garden, for example.

The Order will not apply at premises covered by a Temporary Event Notice. This could be an outdoor Christmas fête where mulled wine is sold, for example.

When would drinking in a designated area become a problem?

Individuals drinking alcohol in a designated area would normally only become a problem if:

  • they were engaged in anti-social behaviour or disorder;
  • the police were of the view that there was likely to be anti-social behaviour or disorder;
  • or complaints had been received from other members of the public.

What can the police do?

The police and other accredited persons, such as Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), have the power to request that a person in a designated area does not drink alcohol in that area where an officer reasonably believes that the person has, or intends to do so.

An officer also has the authority to ask that person to surrender the alcohol and any opened or sealed containers in their possession.

Am I breaking the law if I drink in a designated area?

It is not an offence to drink alcohol in a designated public place, but to refuse an officer’s request to either refrain from public drinking or to surrender any alcohol without reasonable excuse is an arrestable offence.

(Please note, as PCSOs and other accredited persons do not have the power of arrest in these circumstances, a police officer will need to be called if someone fails to comply with the request to refrain from drinking).

What can I do if I witness someone drinking in a designated area or alcohol related anti-social behavior?

Do not call 999 in this instance unless their behaviour poses a threat to life, where there is ongoing violence or a crime has been committed and offenders are still at or near to the scene.

If you are concerned about anti-social drinking and / or wish to report it, please call 101. This will enable you to contact your local police for calls that do not require an urgent response.

When will this be implemented in Wolverhampton?

The Order will come into effect in Wolverhampton from 8th April 2013.