With the New Year comes new powers to help police reduce problems with street drinking in Birmingham. Large parts of the city are now classed as alcohol – restricted areas (ARAs), meaning that drinking alcohol in public areas could now be classed as a criminal offence. Handsworth Wood is one of the wards covered by the new order.
A unanimous vote by police and Birmingham City Council’s licensing committee voted in favour of the new powers. Inspector Karen Geddes, responsible for policing across the Perry Barr constituency said : “It will now be an offence for any person to fail to comply with an officer’s request to stop drinking when in Handsworth Wood. This order is in place to ensure Handsworth remains a safe place for people to live and go about their business without being affected by alcohol – fuelled crime and anti-social beahviour. Issues such as people hanging around drinking in shop doorways or in open areas can cause real upset for communities not to mention having a damaging impact upon businesses.”
If someone, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with the officer’s request they are committing an offence and further action can be taken including issuing a penalty notice for disorder, or arrest and prosecution with a maximum fine of £500.
Councillor Barbara Dring, Chair of Birmingham’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee said: ” Local authorities have the power to deisgnate areas as alcohol – restricted zones to enable the police to take action against those who are, through their drinking, causing a public nuisance or likely to do so.”
Birmingham City Council will be displaying signs to raise awareness of the alcohol restricted areas.