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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Alcohol ban in Camden

May 21 2009
Is the borough-wide Controlled Drinking Zone a move to reduce alcohol-related crime, or persecution of rough sleepers who drink? A borough-wide Controlled Drinking Zone (CDZ) came into force in Camden on 8th June, following the move in neighbouring councils. Since then it has been an offence to drink alcohol in any public place within Camden if the police ask you to stop, and anti-social drinkers can be fined up to £500. The order, which was apparently driven by a local consultation and complaints by residents, allows police to confiscate alcohol held in open containers from those in the zone who are believed to behave in an anti-social way. A spokesman for St Mungo's homelessness agency said to The Pavement that "the police can play an important role in getting street drinkers to engage in services where they receive real help. We will work together with the police to make sure we reach and help street drinkers." Camden's Street Services Team will also collaborate with the police to ensure that people with alcohol problems get the right kind of support, whether it's access to 'wet services' (where street drinkers can consume alcohol in a safe environment and receive help and support with their addiction) or other help, such as rehabilitation services, alcohol advice or health care. But despite the good work of some of the agencies involved, concerns have been raised about the policy itself: is it a move to reduce alcohol-related crime, or persecution of rough sleepers who drink? For example, not everybody drinking alcohol on the streets will have their own drink confiscated, but who will distinguish between those enjoying a can before bedding down and real heavy drinkers causing a disturbance? Also, the order is aimed at trouble-makers, but will not affect the people drinking in licensed premises who are responsible for the vast majority of alcohol-related violence. So, if you're not to get caught in Camden, know that the ruling will not cover Regent's Park, which is a royal park, nor Hampstead Heath, which is run by the Corporation of London.