“Not everybody will accept help and that is a difficult pill to swallow,” said the City of Lincoln Council’s anti-social behaviour team as a man begging on the High Street refused support again.
Persistence is the key for the authority’s intervention team and tackling anti-social behaviour through help is the scheme’s main aim.
It sounds a simple task: go out onto the streets and offer help to those who need it, whether it be those abusing drugs or suffering from mental health issues.
In an ideal world, the team would have had the problem cracked within a matter of months and, as Francesca Bell, the council’s anti-social behaviour chief says, the team “would not be needed”.
But, it’s not as simple as that to help Lincoln’s vulnerable.
For one thing, those who need help do not always accept it and they cannot be forced to receive support.
SUBSCRIBE TO LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEKLY, our exclusive email newsletter with highlights from coverage every week, as well as insights and analysis from our local democracy reporters.
The team will continue to offer help until it has “exhausted all options”, but after that it has to consider enforcement action if an offence is committed.
Considering the scheme was set up to reduce anti-social behaviour, this seems counterproductive. But when all areas have been covered, it’s the only option.
Another issue is that the problem gets moved outside the city centre.
The current alcohol and drugs ban in Lincoln was backed for renewal by councillors in February 2018.The team has the power to enforce the ban as part of their remit.
But, as was pointed out by the team, this only pushes the problem outside the boundary of the order.
“It becomes more difficult to enforce and resource,” said Francesca.
It’s a mammoth task and is a problem that is not going to go away for some time.
The team will still be out next week and the weeks after that, but the results will be there to see on the streets.
SUBSCRIBE TO LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEKLY, our exclusive email newsletter with highlights from our coverage every week and insights and analysis from our local democracy reporters.