Team addresses street drinking in Thetford

Representatives from a group set up to combat street drinking in Thetford were on hand yesterday to discuss the issue with members of the public.

Thetford Community Alcohol Action Group - made up of Keystone Development Trust, META, NORCAS, Thetford Healthy Trainers, Norfolk Constabulary, Thetford Town Council and Breckland District Council – has been working since May to engage with people who drink alcohol in the streets and to find a solution to the issue. The information day, on the Market Place, aimed to highlight initiatives undertaken to help address the problem, which have included twice-weekly patrols, speaking to those who sell and drink alcohol and directing people who felt they had a drinking problem towards the right service.

There are also four Designated Public Places (DPP) which do not ban drinking, but give police extra powers to deal with alcohol-related antisocial behaviour in the town centre and outside shops on the Redcastle Estate, Abbey Estate and Pine Close.

Substance misuse manager at the Thetford-based Matthew Project, Nicola Lambert, said: “The point was to let people know this problem is going on and the police and local community are working together not to suppress it but to understand it and to offer long-lasting support so that there’s community understanding.”

The issue of street drinking has been a priority for the Safer Thetford Action Group (STAG) for some months following complaints of groups gathering along the town’s river corridor and around the town centre.

Thetford PC Keith Kenny said some 15 patrols had taken place since May, with almost 60 people spoken to.

“We’re trying to interact and engage with these people and find the reasons why they drink where they do and if they’ve got a particular issue,” he said. “There’s no quick-fix to this but every indication is it’s going very well so far.”