Drinking Ban

Tucked away in the Standard yesterday was a little piece about a consultation for a borough-wide ‘in-public-spaces’ drinking ban across Greenwich.

Apparently there are already several ‘zones’ where you can’t drink in the streets. Has anyone noticed these? I vaguely remember it being talked about. I guess that I’m so used to seeing drunks staggering about of a Saturday night that whether or not they have a can of Special Brew in their paw at the time is a bit of a moot point.

The Council reckons these bans haven’t really worked as it’s just moved the problem on to the areas that don’t have bans. Since I don’t know how tight the the zones are, I don’t know if St Alfege Passage is included in the Central Greenwich one, but I’ve been talking to Robert at Number 16 recently about unpleasant violent events that have been happening there – people having their doors kicked in, threatening behaviour, verbal, and in some instances physical abuse. The latest incident was last weekend.

Robert’s had CCTV installed ever since he was beaten up himself last year, but the attacks continue. He has some footage of the latest attack that he’s sharing with the police.

It’s clear there’s a problem here, but I don’t know that it’s drinking in the streets that’s the source. If people are already mattressed by the time they come out of the various bars, especially those that have late licences (several of which were approved after someone died from a violent incident, if I recall) then whether or not they’ve bought an extra tin to carry about with them when they start to kick in someone’s door late at night (a terrifying thing, especially if you’re in bed at the time) seems a bit immaterial.

Surely it’s the places that sell booze to people who must already be obviously drunk that must be the issue. It’s hard to pin down specific bars – there are so many in a very small place (though Robert says that the gang who beat him up each had bottles of lager with little slices of lime in the top, which does sort of point to one particular venue in that specific incident – that, and that the drinking-in-the-streets-ban isn’t working very well.)

What is to be done, folks?

31 Comments to “Drinking Ban”

  1. will says:

    You're right Phant, the problem is not people drinking in the streets, it is people who get drunk (mainly in pubs).

    The solution is simple – Use the laws that already exist. Send a drunk bloke to the bar to order, film him, then close any pubs that serve him – it's an offence to serve someone who's had too much. They do it with kids, fags and newsagents, so why not booze?

  2. Fat Cat says:

    Why not have a lot more bobbies on the beat around closing time (and actual punishment for offenders and while we are at it charge drunks to use A&E, if they cant pay when they get to A&E then treatment should be withheld.)? That would be expensive so why not have a Tobin Tax on pints and wkd to pay for the extra cost? Basically excessive booze consumption has negative external costs for the economy at large. The price of booze is clearly too cheap. The cost should rise to corect this market failure.

  3. Paolo says:

    I agree with Will and partially with Fat Cat on this

    The laws exist already to deal with this issue. There is no need for further public drinking bans

    These bans have little to no effect, partly because there is no one to enforce them, partly because the type of people causing the problems really do not care if there is a ban in place or not.

    What is needed is enforcement of the present laws. So that means punitive action against offending bars and pubs and far more police on the beat during closing time.

    I think we'd be amazed at the effect regular, visible police foot patrols would have on this problem. Unfortunately the only police I ever see in Greenwich are either shut up in their cars or escorting football supporters through the town.

    Not sure on Fat Cat's ideas about charging drunks to use A&E and whilst the price of booze can be too cheap in the supermarkets, it certainly isn't in pubs

  4. Paul says:

    This is part of a larger problem – and I'm sorry to see that Robert has had more hassles.

    But, going by one recent experience, I would say it's worth going to see your ward councillor, and putting it on the record with them, as well as with the police. They can be surprisingly helpful.

  5. lula says:

    Can I ask, did Robert put the CCTV up in St Alfege Passage – eg pay for installation or did he campaign for it and the police/council installed/paid for it? Just that a councillor was taking sole claim for it recently!!!

    I've been pushing for CCTV in St Alfege park for ages – people drink in tehre constantly – every morning there are beer cans lying around – obviously people climb over the gates at night and drink… But, I NEVER see police patrolling the area – even during the day time. I see them in St Alfege Passage, but they don't seem to venture in to the park! If they did, they'd notice that hardly ANYONE has their dog on a lead – even though there are HUGE notices saying you must, otherwise you'll be fine, hardly ANYONE cleans up after their dogs (again, supposedly to be fined if you don't), and although not advertised, I imagine it's a "non-drinking" area?

    I think Greenwich is just sadly becoming one of those boroughs blighted by late licenses, and lacking in police support, meaning people who pay taxes, work hard and want to enjoy where they live end up moving out to quieter places!!!

    PS – I agree that drunks should be charged when using A&E – but there should be some sort of repeat offender idea bought it – and if they can't pay, of course they're not refused treatment, but surely they can be given 10 days to pay etc – like when you get a police fine?

  6. Latelygay says:

    Well, a past feature of warm, or should I say warmer, summer nights has been supping outside the Rose & Crown. This has now become verboten under this new restiction and frankly it is a highly unnecessary enforcement.

    This pub is hardly renowned for it's loutishness or raucousness, nor for obvious reasons is it much a beacon for Greenwich's more largered yoofs.

    Why, instead, is it that we cannot have the policing we pay handsomely for.

    Stand in Greenwich centre late of an evening and wait paitiently to see a copper on hand. I hope you have a long store of patience because you will wait a long time.

    The police seem now only to cower in vans or in multiple groups – and they are permanently ready for things to kick off with overkill backup. Not a sensible deployment of resources.

    What about some preventative vigilance to stop things getting to the pavlovian 'kickoff/backup required' mode , rather than applying arbitrary and ott legislation which actually fails to address the true problem and makes miscreants of us all.

  7. Fat Cat says:

    I disagree that pints are too expensive in pubs. If excessive consumption leads to costs elsewhere (violence, health etc) than this means that these external costs are not factored into the cost of the booze. I would also close down any establishment that sold WKD.

  8. will says:

    Charging drunk people to use casualty is a novel idea. I wonder how it might work:

    Drunk man, bleeding profusely – " I need a doctor"
    Nurse – "I'm sorry sir, but you appear to be drunk, that will be £100"
    Drunk man – "Apologies, but I'm skint. I spent my last tenner on WKD"
    Nurse – "Then you will have to leave and treat yourself. I suggest vinegar and brown paper."
    Drunk man – "Gawd bless you, nurse. You're very kind. I'll take a walk home and think long and hard about my stupidity. I certainly won't kick off here, scream vile abuse at you and smash the place up"

  9. Paolo says:

    Latelygay expands on my point well. Such blanket bans only really effect the law-abiding. Those who cause the problem couldn't give a monkey's whether or not there is an outside drinking ban in place

    The automatic reaction to resort to bans is unfortunately symptomatic of current government, both local and national. It looks like they're doing something,it costs nothing but unfortunately achieves nothing either

    Fat Cat – pubs aren't the issue. Supermarkets are. Fully agree with you on WKD though

  10. Anonymous says:

    The number of times ive been asked by the same drunkard walking down the street in Greenwich for '50p' it doesnt seem to me that he would be able to pay for his 'treatment' in that case.
    Obviously the case is different with regards to people who go out on the lash and get abusive. Its more often than not reported that these incidents of violence and/or vandalism are caused by individuals out partying and letting testostorone/ego/stupidity get in the way as opposed to the men and women who sit in the park getting drunk on a dozen bottles of white lightning.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Just a thought…..if outside drinking is banned throughout the borough, would this include enjoying a single glass of chilled wine with a summer picnic in the Park? I can't see that working, somehow…..

  12. N. Tebbit says:

    I get drunk all the time but never "kick off". In fact of a Friday night it's rare that I don't put a hole in my trousers from falling over. What happens between 8pm Friday and 9am Sunday is a total blur and for my abominable habit to be curtailed in any way by oikish b*stards downing alcopops and headbutting elderly pedestrians is completely out of the question.

    Bring back workhouses, I say. Get these hooligans off the streets and on to the treadmills. Think of the environmental benefits of getting a hundred hoodies rigged up to the national grid, kebabs dangling in front of the genrating machines egging them on.

    Why stop there? A great hangover-diverter would be to wheel these cretins out of a Saturday morning and chain them up, perhaps in front of the Cutty Sark, and subject them to taunts, or objectionable music played out of a phone, or spit at their feet. It would be like the old public floggings – think of the commercial opportunities for locals!

    We need to put the lower orders to work to our advantage.

  13. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    I have to say that whenever I've seen the habitual drunks who quietly slip into Oblivion on a park bench in St Afege's Park, they've not really seemed to have enough energy to get violent. I am always MUCH edgier around people out on the lash who always seem to be arguing with each other outside bars.

    One of the most terrifying stories I was told was someone who came out of the DLR with her boyfriend around midnight, when a bunch of pissed-up blokes were having an argument outside the Wetherspoons. It looked like it was just about to turn nasty so she and her boyfriend crossed to the other side of the road, only to be hit by a flying bottle.

    It wasn't AIMED at them – the bloke who threw it just had so little co-ordination she'd have probably been safer if he HAD been trying to hit them – but a bottle is a bottle, whoever it was aimed at.

    I haven't heard much about Wetherspoons recently – I'm wondering if they've been cleaning up their act a bit (if so, good for them) but I HAVE heard stuff about other places.

    I'm not convinced a blanket ban on drinking outside is the answer – as LatelyGay points out, the Rose & Crown never seems to be a problem.

    The answer really does seem to be to force pubs to refuse to serve obviously drunk people.

  14. JL says:

    "50p Man" – the big bloke in secondhand suit jacket and chinos?

  15. UMS says:

    What happened last weekend, I didn't see any report of what happened last weekend?

  16. Gemma says:

    It's very rare that local incidents get reported. I once watched a police stakeout, from beginning to end, in which someone got seriously injured but never saw anything about it in the papers.

  17. Anonymous says:

    50p man walks up and down Greenwich South Street (Black man in a hoodie and jeans) telling anyone who will listen he is 'short of just 50p'.

    He's even cornered me whilst im in the off-license! Asking me for 50p and all because he wants one extra can of lager.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Just a little piece on the general police bashing that seems to pervade this thread and hopefully explain what really happens in real life – not The Bill.

    Firstly, officers parade about 15 -20 in number on a usual shift. That is per station so in Greenwich you will have Greenwich town centre, Plumstead and Eltham. Westcombe Park, Woolwich and other small stations are not patrol bases and don't parade your average 999 type officers. So, in total you have about 60 officers, at best, for the entire borough. Sounds a lot doesn't it. Nope. Think of the geography of the whole borough and you will see how thinly plod are spread. Then start to reduce the number of officers as they arrest people through the shift and usually by about 1am you will have no more than a handful (say 10 – to be generous) covering the entire borough.

    I work in Central London now and last summer on a Saturday night I was the sole officer left on duty at 2.30 am covering all of Belravia, Victoria, Pimlico, Trafalgar Square, The Strand, Piccadilly Circus and all the way out to The Albert Hall.

    This is no joke. Don't forget that WE are citizens and taxpayers too and it isn't a case of cowering in our vans/cars and calling on backup willy nilly. Most of the time there isn't any backup and we are faced with either jumping in to a violent situation single handed (contrary to popular belief we are NOT trained to the level of Bruce Lee or The Ninja Turtles) or being professional witnesses to see who is doing what until it is safe – yes, safe – for us to intervene. None of us is paid enough to get our head caved in.

    Remember – police numbers are being cut. FACT.
    PCSO's are paid MORE than probationary constables (thats for two years) and have NO responsibilities and the absolute right to withdraw. Cut the PCSO numbers and employ more old bill.

    With regards to the drinking ban the council has completely targeted the wrong group of people. They pick on the easy targets – like The Rose and Crown – and don't even touch the big chains. Again, the whole of The City of Westminster is a Controlled Drinking Zone – not that you'd believe it. PR exercise I'm afraid. It will look good for the election!

  19. Latelygay says:

    Many years ago there grew up the fiction that police could be more effective and cover a great spread in cars. Well, that could have been appled as one leg of a strategy, whereas it actually became the norm, not to say the absolute of policing policy.

    Prevention and deterrence disappeared out of the equation and now so much of our policing is only reactive. Usually too late and by the time serious damage has already been done.

    Thing is, how many thousands pass through Greenwich of a weekend? Many. Well, surely a handful of static coppers on the beat will connect with far more people than when they're stuck in a car.

    If we had a policeman amongst our number now I'm sure he'd be the first to say, 'Y'know, it's really not that simple …'. Well, actually, I think it is.

    Ironically, in the march to make policing more professional and modern, it has become overly complicated. There have been attempts also to hoodwink the public into believing that more resources are being applied with the introduction of the PCSOs.

    Can anyone tell me that they actually have any impact whatsoever. I personally am wholly unconvinced. It's just a way of getting a manque copper for half the price.

    Well, in that case I'll take a real, full priced copper for every two of the PCSOs, thank you very much.

    As a the satirist Mark Steel recently pointed out, what would we think of a fire service that failed to put out fires, or when they turned up to an incident ended up hosing the wrong house. There'd be a clamour then.

  20. Fat CAt says:

    "If we had a policeman amongst our number now I'm sure he'd be the first to say, 'Y'know, it's really not that simple …'. " I doubt very much they would to be honest. The cops I know are all too aware of the deficiency of the service they provide.

  21. Robert No 16 says:

    I` m very grateful Phantom to you for opening up this subject.Also to all who have commented.I first came to Greenwich nearly 50 years ago.I had never had any run ins with people who were drunk or otherwise.It is only in the last year that like buses three seemed to come along.
    1 A man who lived next door to me in Trinity Grove whom I had not seen for 10 years.In St Alfege Passage Drunk ,Head butted me 3 times,Spat in my face, and said "I know where you live and am going to kill you later"I was concerned because I often heard him beating up his wife.So much so she hanged herself. He was fined £60 for the assault on me.
    2 I woke up in my bed at 4.30 am with a black guy leaning over me. More high than drunk.A fight and I managed to eject him from my home.Not caught.
    3 14 days later 4 youths 2 boys 2 girls very very drunk tried to kick in my door .I chased them away. I fell they kicked me and left me for dead.Not caught
    Only last Saturday the lady that lives next door had her door kicked in .at 9.30pm I have this on CCTV.
    So it is not just me!!
    In answer to Lula`s question. I installed the CCTV at my own cost. (was quoted £1200 by shop) did it myself for £350.What I fined a bit gaulling is that the Supper Drug`s CCTV is so bad no image is watchable . Would have thought they could run to a new set of cameras!!
    I will always try and see good in people,and Greenwich is a fab place.

  22. Anonymous says:

    There will be no drinking ban under the matter being consulted upon and law abiding souls partaking of a chilled glass or two on a summers day will not be effected. The law will give Police the power to tell people to stop drinking if they have reason to and they commit an offene if they do not stop when told. Police can also confiscate any drink from said persons. This also means that those drinking outside the Rose & Crown are safe from this particular piece of legislation as long as they behave themselves. Unfortunately it still does not answer the problem of the lack of Police presence on the streets.

  23. Jack says:

    Latelygay said…

    "Well, a past feature of warm, or should I say warmer, summer nights has been supping outside the Rose & Crown. This has now become verboten under this new restiction and frankly it is a highly unnecessary enforcement.

    This pub is hardly renowned for it's loutishness or raucousness, nor for obvious reasons is it much a beacon for Greenwich's more largered yoofs."

    I'm not sure that you'd have anyone who lives in the immediate area agree with you on that: Thursday to Saturday are about 5 hours of constant noise each night, and it only gets worse the better the weather gets, and the more people there are yelling outside.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I think 50p man you are talking about is an ex serviceman with mental health problems.

  25. lula says:

    Robert, i can't believe you had to pay for the CCTV yourself = And to think that the blooming councillor I spoke to took full credit for the "recently installed CCTV in St Alfege Passage". Terrible!!!

  26. Paolo says:

    Jack, I hardly think its suprising that there is some noise from a pub. After all, its where people go to relax and have fun. That it gets noisier in the summer is no suprise either. Also, the government's smoking ban doesn't help matters

    However, unless the pub has only opened since you moved in, it would be a bit rich to complain about noise. Its not as if the Rose and Crown has fights spilling into the streets every Sat night

    As for the police issue, I don't think anyone here is blaming it on the actual rank and file of the police force. The decisions to remove the police from walking beats and to use PCSOs as ersatz coppers are political decisons taken by the Home Office and the politicians at the top of the police force. There is far too much emphasis on "detections" for the sake of centrally-set targets and little consideration of the deterrent effect of police officers actually walking the streets

  27. Latelygay says:


    Indeed, I wouldn't characterise the R&C as being a trouble spot and it has been established there for decades.

    To, reiterate, the current bye-law has stopped outdoors drinking.

    I also read with interest 'Anonymous's' post about policing levels to which I can only say that staffing levels of that order are literally criminal.

    One doesn't go in for Met knocking on a ritual basis, but rather based on observation, like last night on Shaftesury Avenue in the West End where a PC was confroning a vagrant for urinating in a phone box. As I passing by she was radioing for assistance although he seemed utterly docile and complacent. Moments later she was joined by another officer on foot, and then shortly after that a patrol car arrived with full blues and twos.

  28. Anonymous says:

    "Jack, I hardly think its suprising that there is some noise from a pub. After all, its where people go to relax and have fun. That it gets noisier in the summer is no suprise either." Thats cool so long as its inside the pub. If I invite 30 of my mates round for a bbq on my deck (its been there for years dont you know) and we stay up till 11 having a few beers (we get louder the more we drink you realise) would this be acceptable to you if you lived next door?

  29. Paul says:

    I lived over-looking the Rose and Crown for eight or nine years – admittedly on the third floor. I can't see why anyone would object. It was indeed there before we moved in, and in general I like the sound of people enjoying themselves. I still walk past it regularly and haven't noticed that it's in any way more boisterous than when we were there.

    Greenwich is a fun place. People have fun here. That's not so terrible. The kind of thing that Robert has endured is despicable, and it's ridiculous to equate one with the other.

  30. Jack says:

    Obviously there is going to be noise coming from a pub: that's a given. But my point was that Latelygay suggested that the Rose and Crown has no raucousness, which just isn't true: it is simply a fact that there is a huge amount of noise coming from that pub Thursday to Saturday, and it is wrong to suggest that there is no loutish behaviour eminating from there when I have seen people coming out and trying to pull down the theatre sign and lights, yelling and scraping with each other too many times to count.

    Just because a particular venue is a favourite doesn't mean it is the immune to trouble: across the road Olivier makes a point of telling his customers to be quieter if they are smoking, but there doesn't seem to an equivalent at the R&C, which does attract a number of students on the weekend who do seem to just want to get trashed.

    Is the R&C as loud as some of the places in the town centre? Maybe not, but just because you drink at a venue that doesn't mean that they are immune from all trouble.

  31. Paul says:

    Jack's last comment seems to be entirely made up! I drink in the Rose and Crown regularly. It does NOT get a student crowd at the weekend (it is a predominantly gay venue that has a regular clientele, very few of whom are students). I have NEVER (in the 7 years drinking there) seen anyone try to pull down the theatre sign! I will admit that, like any pub, there might be the odd incident of anti social behaviour (although this is rare for this pub), but all in all, if I were to live near a pub (which, Jack, was your choice) I can think of far worse pubs to live near!

    As commented previously, if you choose to live near a pub that has been there for many years, it's a little unfair to then complain about the noise. All pubs have noise.