A police crackdown on street drinkers is under way in Ripon, after reports that elderly residents and visitors are feeling threatened and intimidated by their behaviour.
Ripon police have confirmed that targeted patrols are being carried out at the city’s bus station and the surrounding area, which have been identified as hotspots for street drinkers to congregate.
Ripon city councillors discussed the issue at a full council meeting on Monday night, where concerns were raised that it is not presenting a welcoming image of Ripon for visitors when they get off their coaches.
Coun Andrew Williams, (Ind, Moorside), said that moving the drinkers on does not offer a long-term solution, and has called for social services to be contacted to assist police with their efforts.
Coun Williams said: “My concern is that just involving the police doesn’t actually solve the problem, it merely moves it around - these people are actually in the main local people, who are drinking there pretty much seven days a week, 365 days a year, unless it’s that cold that you can’t actually sit out there.
“I do think that perhaps we should also be contacting social services to see if there is something that they can do to try and break the cycle, because unless that is actually tackled, you are not actually solving the problem. That’s the sad situation, that for these people that is their life, and that is their social circle.
"That to them is normal daily life, and until you actually challenge that and actually do something about that - I appreciate that’s far from easy - you are not ever going to solve the problem, you’ll simply keep moving it around the city.
“The drinkers don’t ordinarily become abusive, but to a lot of elderly people who are on their own, in the same way that groups of teenagers on street corners are not necessarily doing anything wrong, people can feel intimidated by it, and once they feel intimidated by it, become threatened, and that becomes an issue to them, and so we need to try and see if there’s some way of solving this problem in the long-term and not simply shove them from the bus station to somewhere else.
“There is clearly something wrong in these people’s lives when that is their normal daily behaviour, and that is what they wake up and want to do - it’s not for us to impose our view on how people should live their lives, but they shouldn’t be in a position where in leading their lives, they are causing fear and intimidation to other people who are trying to go about their daily business in the city.”
Neighbourhood Police Inspector for Ripon, Steve Breen said: “We are aware of this issue and are working together with our partners through the local Community Safety Hub to bring a resolution to the issue. A number of dispersal orders have been issued to disrupt these activities and targeted patrols have been visiting the area affected.
“We will continue to work towards resolving this problem and would ask local residents to work with us and report any instances of street drinking to us via 101.”