July 31, 2019 3.09 pm This story is over 57 months old

Council launches investigation into Boston anti-social behaviour

A task and finish group will look into issues surrounding alcohol

A full investigation is to be launched into the night-time economy in Boston, including street-drinking.

Boston Borough Councillors last night scrutinised figures from police and their own anti-social behaviour team which, despite showing a general rise in actions taken against street drinkers during 2018-19, reveal that no enforcement was carried out between December and March.

Residents of the town disagree with the figures, and say the issue persists a lot more than is reported.

Cabinet member Paul Skinner, whose portfolio covers the PSPO, reminded members that it is not a complete ban on alcohol.

Under the order, a breach happens when a person refuses to desist with drinking or leave the area when asked to do so by an officer.

He suggested launching a Task and Finish group into the issue and the town’s night-time economy.

“If you want to get under these stats rather than just make a noise about it, you do need to be ready for the work,” he said.

“There exists a disparity between what people perceive is going on and what is actually going on and this is an opportunity to get under the skin of it.

“The effects of people drinking and perception of whether things are safe, I mean it is relatively safer in Boston to Lincoln believe it or not, but we as a group of people need to engage, have a look and go and see the facts ourselves.”

Drinkers are often reported to be seen within plain sight of the town centre.

Officer acknowledges issue “probably” going on more than stats show

One of those behind enforcing the PSPO has acknowledged street-drinking in Boston is “probably” going on a lot more than statistics are saying.

Ian Dunn, one of two Boston Borough Council ASB officers who work alongside Lincolnshire Police to enforce the PSPO, led the report on the figures.

Councillor Neill John Hastie asked how accurate figures were and whether the ASB team and police trusted the 101 statistics.

He was, again, highly critical of the 101 number, repeating residents’ concerns that it is not recording incidents – including a recent one where a man was seen urinating on the town’s war memorial – and putting people off calling, adding: “When in reality its going on a lot more than what statistics are saying.”

“Yeah it probably is,” responded Mr Dunn, adding: “but I can only go on the stats in front of me,”

The council has been keen to say incident numbers are in decline.

Mr Dunn had earlier told members: “We can only go on the back of police.

“I know there have only been 17 calls to the police on the 101 system this year regarding police street drinking so at the moment the numbers have dropped based on the fact that we haven’t had the numbers reported. We’ve also not seen or come across it as much.”

A scrutiny committee last night looked into the issues.

Reporting needs to be easier for accurate statistics

Councillor Hastie, who runs the Boston Street Drinkers and ASB incidents Facebook page, welcomed the task and finish group.

He also wants a new reporting system created on the council’s website, similar to the one used for fly-tipping, to create accurate statistics and make reporting easier.

“The problem with the Facebook page is no-one recognises it, it’s unofficial, yet the numbers are higher than the official ones but that’s because its easier to do,” he said.

“This way, no-one can say “no-one’s reported it”, they don’t have to give an incident number, the council can produce their own, but at least we’ll have an accurate record for a change.”

“The people who are reporting it online are the ones out there looking for it because they care about their areas.

“The residents of Boston see it on a regularly because they’re living round it and see it on a daily basis, they get up on a morning and see it, they come home from work and see it, they take the kids out at the weekend and see it because they’re the ones walking round all the time.”

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