Responsible Drinking Borough

What is a responsible drinking borough?

A responsible drinking borough (also known as Drinking Control Zones, Alcohol Control Zones and or Alcohol Restricted Zones in other boroughs) does not outlaw drinking in public but reflects a decision to control irresponsible behaviour linked to alcohol consumption.

PROHIBITION: No person shall refuse to stop drinking alcohol or hand over containers (sealed or unsealed) which are believed to contain alcohol, when required to do so by an authorised officer.

It is important to note that officers will only enforce this prohibition when people drinking alcohol are currently or likely to cause anti-social behaviour.

Police and council enforcement officers (e.g. Tower Hamlets Enforcement Officers (THEOs)) have additional powers (under a legal power called a Public Spaces Protection Order), where they reasonably believe that a person is or has been consuming alcohol in public spaces within the alcohol control zone, or that a person intends to consume alcohol in public spaces, which doing so would breach that prohibition. It allows authorised officers to require that person:

  • Not to consume alcohol or anything which the authorised officer reasonably believes to be alcohol
  • To surrender anything in their possession which is, or which the authorised officer reasonably believes to be alcohol or a container for alcohol.

If they fail to comply with the request not to consume alcohol or to surrender anything in their possession which is reasonably believed to be alcohol or a container for alcohol when asked to do so by an authorised officer, they can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (on the spot fine) up to £100 or on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £500 (Level 2) on the standard scale.

View the Responsible Drinking Borough PSPO.

Will this stop me drinking outside a pub or in my garden?

No, it only applies to public spaces, such as the street or a park. It will not stop anyone from drinking outside a pub during and up to 30 minutes after licensing hours, or from drinking in their own garden or sensibly in a public space. It will however, stop those committing anti-social behaviour in parks and public spaces through their excessive drinking.

A public space for the purposes of this Order means any place to which the public or any section of the public has access to, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission.

What is Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB)?

The Anti-social Behaviour (ASB), Crime and Policing Act 2014, section 2 defines ASB as:

  1. Conduct that has caused, or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to any person
  2. Conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person in relation to that person’s occupation of residential premises, or
  3. Conduct capable of causing housing-related nuisance or annoyance to any person

ASB is any aggressive, intimidating or destructive activity that damages or destroys another person’s quality of life. Issues that can be considered to be ASB include:

  • Rowdy, noisy behaviour in otherwise quiet neighbourhoods
  • Threatening, drunken or intimidating behaviour
  • Vandalism and graffiti
  • Littering
  • Aggressive begging

Does this need to be borough-wide?

Anti-social behaviour and crime linked to excessive alcohol consumption is an issue across the whole of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and there is a minority of people in the borough who will cause disruption and disturbance to others. The Responsible Drinking Borough (under a Public Spaces Protection Order) gives the police and council enforcement officers additional powers to target those who cause misery to others and will also provide reassurance to law-abiding residents that something is being done to tackle these issues.

The surrounding boroughs to Tower Hamlets have implemented borough-wide Drinking Control Zones under Designated Public Place Orders, and these will also have automatically transitioned into Public Place Protection Orders under the legislation as Tower Hamlets have.

When was it designated, when will it be enforced and how long will it last?

An extensive six-week public consultation took place from February to March 2011 which gave residents, businesses, charities, partner organisations and licensees the opportunity to share their thoughts on the proposals.

The consultation found that 84 per cent of those who responded were in favour of introducing a Responsible Drinking Borough.

The plans were approved by the council’s committee process and elected councillors voted to implement in on 13 July 2011.

Police and authorised council officers can now take action when they believe a person consuming alcohol is or is likely to cause anti-social behaviour.

Signs have been placed in prominent locations across the borough to inform residents and visitors of the Responsible Drinking Borough and what it means for them. 

This Public Spaces Protection Order automatically updated from the existing Designated Public Protection Order on 20 October 2017.  It was extended on 19 October 2020 for three years, until 18 October 2023. 

Its effectiveness and enforcement will be reviewed annually and there will be a further public consultation before it is extended or altered. 

What support is available for street drinkers?

Street drinkers in the borough will continue to be offered advice and support into treatment services to help them address their addictions, move out of the ‘street lifestyle’ and address their anti-social behaviour. The authorities will continue to offer this support to anyone who needs it, but will use these additional powers to prevent alcohol related anti-social behaviour. 

How can I report alcohol related anti-social behaviour in my area?

You can report alcohol related anti-social behaviour by calling the Police Non-Emergency Number 101 or by speaking in person with a member of your local Police Safer Neighbourhood Team.