Shops in the Wakefield area have joined up with West Yorkshire Police to tackle street drinking. Police are tagging high strength alcohol cans, 7% and above, with a DNA tag to trace where street drinkers are buying their alcohol from.
By Megan Jeffers
Retailers in Leeds say they would welcome a similar scheme.
Six licensed retailers in Wakefield City Centre have signed up for the scheme already.
They have agreed to remove a brand of lager from their shop because it is in high demand for the local street drinkers.
The outcome of a two-month trial shows a reduction in the amount of street drinkers in the city centre and a rapid 60 per cent decrease in the amount of tickets issued for street drinking.
The scheme developers, Smartwater, have helped the force by supplying six new kinds of tags. They glow a different colour when placed under an ultraviolet light.
Each of the six contributing licensed retail shops have been allocated their own colour which marks where the can has come from.
When a can is found on the street or in the possession of a street drinker, officers can trace to where it was bought and offer guidance and support to the shop.
West Yorkshire Police response
Retailers, under the Licensing Act, have a responsibility to encourage the prevention of crime and disorder and prevent public nuisance when it comes to selling alcohol.
Police licensing officer, PC Chris Schofield, said: “Retailers have a responsibility to ensure this initiative is adhered to in order to tackle the availability of high-strength alcohol.
“The majority of the retailers within the public protection zone are extremely supportive of the scheme, and one retailer has already sent back his stock of high-strength alcohol cans to his supplier showing the immediate impact this initiative has had.
“Our priority remains the safety and wellbeing of residents and visitors to Wakefield, and a positive partnership between businesses and police can play a significant role in making our city centre a safe and attractive place to live and work.”
Chief Superintendent Paul Hepworth said: “We are well aware of the concerns the public have around street drinking in Wakefield city centre and we are continuing to be proactive in tackling this issue.
“It is believed this scheme is the first of its kind to be successfully implemented within UK policing and we are already seeing results on the streets with initial indications suggesting supplies of this alcohol have decreased.”
Officers have a role to scope the public protection zones and confiscate any alcohol from street drinkers. They will be prosecuted if found to be in breach of the order.
Leeds City Centre
Many shops and supermarkets in the Leeds City Centre think this is a good idea and believe the scheme would majorly benefit the city.
They say Leeds would be kept clean, less money would be spent on cleaning the city and drink-related crime would be at an all-time low.
Supervisor in Leeds City Sainsbury’s, Cassie Greenwood said: ‘If it was up to me I would definitely sign us up to be part of the scheme.
“I notice all the time how badly the city can get littered, especially in the morning when I am opening up the store and there are cans and bottles all over the street. It’s not fair on the people who have to clean it up.
“It would scare street drinkers to not litter and make them think twice before they just throw it on the floor. As a supermarket, we would benefit by getting the extra support if a can was found from our shop.”