Robbed by the Police: Alcohol confiscation and the hyperregulation of public space is a good new report by The Manifesto Club highlighting the proliferation of 'Alcohol Control Zones' in England and their use to stop people drinking in public:
'across the country, police officers and community support officers (CSOs) have been confiscating alcohol from members of the public who are doing absolutely nothing wrong. Between 2004–6, 3802 people received on-the-spot fines for drinking in public. Overall, we estimate that there will be 20,000 confiscations in July and August this year'.
In Brighton for instance, people have had alcohol confiscated: sitting talking on the beach or in a park; walking quietly through town with friends; when they have not yet opened their alcohol; and when they are about to return home to drink their alcohol. The following accounts are by two people from Brighton:
‘A group of us were hanging out in a pedestrianised street in Brighton celebrating a birthday with a few drinks … . The community police officers came round, and emptied everyone’s drinks into the drains. None of us were causing a disturbance or hassling anyone - indeed there were a couple of excellent buskers on the street and a few people dancing Latin-style.’
‘I was at a street festival event with my girlfriend; I had a few cans of lager with me, and was drinking one as we were walking. There were lots of other people, mostly in large groups, also enjoying the early summer evening with a few drinks. Perhaps because there was only two of us, a couple of police officers felt empowered to approach and order me to empty the can's contents into the grass. They both stood over me while I did this. As the police set off to harass other smaller groups or individuals, all around larger groups continued to drink freely and peacefully.’
See also Booze Bans: the new frontier of joyless regulation by Henry Porter; Facebook Group against booze bans