Dec 24 2014

Harrow is a “No Drinking Zone” say Harrow Police @MPSHarrow

alcohol1-150x150Yet again, we’ve caught the Met  spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt on Twitter, about the legalities of drinking alcohol in public.

According to the local boys in Blue “…Harrow has a no drinking zone in Public…” which gives the impression that anybody caught drinking will be spending the night in the cells. Which certainly isn’t the case.

Harrow has a number of alcohol exclusion zones, or may, in fact, have one zone covering the entire borough – it’s difficult to tell since the Council’s website provides no useful information on the subject, and the council refuses to respond to requests for information. But if we assume, generously, that there is a borough-wide alcohol exclusion zone, what does that mean?

The best advice we can find, from a council which does bother to provide information, comes from Hounslow, where they call them ‘controlled drinking zones.” Hounslow say, “The CDZ does not make it illegal to drink alcohol in a public place,” and goes onto make the very salient point that “…a person could risk regulation if they stray beyond the legal boundary of a licensed premise and they do not stop drinking if asked to do so by a police officer or police community support officer.”

They add even more detail: “A CDZ does not make it illegal to carry alcohol or to drink alcohol responsibly in a public place. CDZs will only be used to tackle alcohol related anti-social behaviour or disorder. Under these circumstances police will have the power to stop people drinking alcohol and seize or confiscate alcohol within the controlled area. If you fail to comply with an officer’s request to stop drinking and/or dispose of alcohol, you could face a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN).”

So, it’s quite clear: if you are politely and considerately drinking a can of beer on the way home from the train station, and you’ve refrained from pissing in the gutter, you’re not being noisy and offensive, or you’re not upsetting anybody and generally minding your own business, you’re perfectly entitled to enjoy said can of beer. Or two. Or three. Be loud, rowdy and shout to your mates, and you can expect plod to ask you to pour your beer away. Fail to do so, and you’ll find yourself on the sharp end of a fixed penalty notice.

We’re all for sweeping away the dregs of society who turn our town centres into alcohol-fuelled cesspits of violence and crime, but there is an important distinction to be made on the polar opposites of drinking in public. What we need is either a test case of a polite, respectful person drinking a can of beer finding themselves getting a fixed penalty notice, or we need a little clarity from the police when they make these glib statements on Twitter. And a smidgen of help from the council in explaining to their residents what they can or can’t do.

Anything else is simply an attempt at controlling the masses. And history shows us how well that’s worked out…



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