Police want to extend restricted 6.5% alcohol sale to High Road, Ilford

Police officers and outreach workers patrolling Ilford town centre to tackle street drinkers

Police officers and outreach workers patrolling Ilford town centre to tackle street drinkers - Credit: Archant

A voluntary scheme banning the sale of super-strong alcohol in a bid to crack down on street drinking could be extended to other parts of Ilford.

During a patrol last week police say they are pushing for High Road shops to sign up to the initiative which has been rolled out in Cranbrook Road and a number of premises in York Road.

Businesses say they have noticed a reduction in street drinkers since a no drinking zone was also introduced in the town centre to stamp out anti-social behaviour.

Pc Lee Chapman said: “It has been quite effective and it seems the street drinkers have been moved down from the town centre to the police station area. We are hoping to get shops in High Road to agree to the voluntary scheme as well.”

Officers and outreach workers talked to street drinkers on Thursday to confiscate alcohol and offer support.

Pc Chapman said: “This is not about figures because it is not going to solve the problem long-term, but it is about engaging with them and finding out where they get their drinks from to break that cycle.”

The majority of off-licences in Cranbrook Road were happy to continue with the licensing agreement but manager of the Late Food Centre, Cebrail Demir, said he had to abandon the scheme six months after joining because he was losing too much money.

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He said: “This was affecting my business because there are still people finding it from other shops. If I don’t sell alcohol, I can’t cover my expenses.”

Mr Demir has increased the price of the 6.5 per cent alcohol cans from £1.30 to £1.70 to deter street drinkers and has seen a drop in the number of street drinkers around his shop.

A number of the street drinkers officers spoke to said they bought their alcohol from discount supermarket Lidl in High Road.

A spokeswoman for Lidl said: “We encourage customers to drink responsibly and we also strive to meet the demands of all our customer base and therefore have to be able to offer a full range of products.”

Business Improvement District (BID) manager, Ben Collins, welcomed the reduction of the number of street drinkers in the town centre in the last year and hopes the scheme can continue to improve shoppers and residents experience of the town centre, adding: “The key is trying to deal with these people sympathetically and support them.”