Police hope no alcohol zone will curb anti-social behaviour
POLICE have vowed to attract families to a park blighted with anti-social behaviour by making it an alcohol free zone.
Sergeant Philip White and his team, pictured, has been patrolling Central Forest Park, Hanley, after receiving reports of drink-fuelled trouble.
His team has already confiscated 50 cans of beer and 10 bottles of wine in the past two weeks.
The park had always been an alcohol-restricted zone but officers were able to use their discretion.
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The old regulations meant anyone caught with alcohol would be asked to leave the park but did not have to surrender the drink.
But under the new rules, officers will not tolerate anyone in the park with alcohol.
Sgt White, who was given the extra responsibility of the park as part of the police boundaries shake-up in April, said: "I've had reports of people drinking and in the past if you did not see them consume the alcohol you could not do anything. But now we're having a zero tolerance.
"Officers have been using their discretion so if someone has a can in their back pocket they would be left alone. Now anyone with alcohol will have it taken off them."
Latest figures show anti-social behaviour in the park has decreased by 23 per cent year on year, with 14 incidents in the second half of May compared to 18 last year.
And Sgt White is keen for the number of crimes to continue to fall.
He added: "There have been articles in The Sentinel about anti-social behaviour at the park. This is an area for families to come and enjoy the facilities rather than being confronted by a small minority that spoil the park by drinking alcohol."
CCTV cameras and improved lighting have already been installed to make the park safer.
Lee Martin, who voluntarily runs the park's cafe, Fusion, has set up the Community and Parks Society to help the police keep an eye on the park.
The group already has 250 members including fishermen, dog walkers and bike riders.
The 39-year-old, of St Andrew's Crescent, Sneyd Green, said: "It became the norm to come here with an alcoholic drink. I'm pleased Sgt White is enforcing existing laws."
Park user Phillipa Brown, of Dilke Street, Hanley, said: "I'm so pleased about the police park presence it's going to make such a difference. It's a deterrent."