POLICE have launched an operation in a bid to crackdown on people drinking in public in Newbury.
Over the past week there have been increased reports of a group of people drinking in public and acting in an intimidating way, mainly in the area around St Nicolas Church in Newbury.
Officers have been taking action including regularly confiscating alcohol.
From 2012 onwards, town centre patrol teams have been enforcing the Habitual Drunkard legislation under the Inebriates Act 1898.
The Victorian Act targeted ‘habitual drunkards’ whose offences typically included being drunk in charge of a horse, carriage and even a steam engine.
Issued a century ago, the drunks were given the equivalent of modern- day ASBOS, being banned from buying alcohol.
However, the Act was never repealed – and to this day, under it, anyone convicted of drinking in a public place three times will be banned from buying alcohol for three years.
The Act also considers it an offence for shop owners to sell alcohol to a banned individual.
Sgt Andy Bone from the Newbury town centre team said: "We are aware of the issue and have reintroduced Operation Fortify.
"This operation is aimed at engaging with street drinkers, adopting a low tolerance level approach to offences and ensuring that the drinkers themselves are signposted to support agencies and partners in the town, thereby reducing their offending behaviour.
"If you witness any anti-social behaviour relating to this issue please ring our non emergency Police Enquiry Centre on 101 and ask to speak to Sgt 4651 Andy Bone of the Newbury town centre team (if you feel your safety is threatened please ring 999 in the normal way).
"If you do not want to speak directly to the police you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court."