A GROUND-BREAKING initiative designed to tackle street-drinking in parts of Bradford city centre is to be extended following a successful three-month trial.
In June, West Yorkshire Police teamed up with Bradford’s Business Improvement District (BID) and City Centre Beat (CCB), the business crime reduction partnership, to launch the scheme, which uses advanced forensic technology to prevent street drinkers from gaining access to alcohol that is deemed to be of “super-strength” – beer and lagers which are more than 6.5 per cent alcohol by volume (abv).
The project, dubbed Operation Straitpark, has worked so well that Bradford BID and CCB have now agreed to fund it for a further 12 months.
Operation Straitpark utilises “SmartWater” – a liquid that can only be seen under ultraviolet light which, when applied to an item, provides it with a unique forensic colour code and therefore makes the item traceable.
It is sometimes used to give a forensic link back to the owner of stolen goods, and also to link criminals to crime scenes.
Through Operation Straitpark, alcohol retailers in the North Parade and Oastler Centre areas of the city centre have agreed to mark their stock with SmartWater. Consequently, when street drinkers are found with cans of alcohol, police can trace where they were bought. They will then offer advice and support to the retailer concerned, to encourage them to help prevent crime and disorder associated with street-drinking, and to work with them to cut off the supply of super-strength beverages.
The unique Bradford scheme also uses legal powers, that exist under anti-social behaviour legislation, to tackle the problem. For the first time in the UK, police in Bradford issue Community Protection Warnings (CPWs) to retailers followed by Community Protection Notices (CPNs) which, if breached, lead to prosecution and severe penalties.
BID chairman Ian Ward said: “The operation is clearly having an impact and with street -drinking and the anti-social behaviour it feeds being of such concern to the public and businesses, we felt it was essential to help the police continue their good work.”
Inspector Pete Hall, who leads the city centre Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) said: “Since the launch of the scheme, officers have noted a significant reduction in drinking, shop thefts and anti-social behaviour and some known drinkers themselves commented on how difficult it is to get served from certain establishments. We’re extremely grateful for the support of the BID and CCB in helping us to continue the operation for another 12 months.”
BID manager Jonny Noble added: “There’s no doubt that the use of SmartWater and these new powers is working. Apparently even the Council’s cleansing team say they have noticed less mess being left in these areas.”
Catherine Riley, chairwoman of City Centre Beat, said: “Several businesses in the area have reported that the amount of drinking and bad behaviour have reduced, so it’s clear that Operation Straitpark is becoming the positive force we hoped it would.”
Members of the public who encounter anti-social behaviour in the city centre are urged to report it as soon as possible by calling 101 or 999 in the case of emergency.