Police propose Hampstead Heath alcohol ban to combat ‘nuisance drinkers’

Hampstead SNP vice-chair Linda Chung

Hampstead SNP vice-chair Linda Chung - Credit: Archant

A ban on anti-social street drinking in Camden could be extended to cover Hampstead Heath to fight a plague of “aggressive” nuisance drinkers, police have revealed.

For years, Hampstead residents have complained to police about troublesome people who drink heavily throughout the day by the historic fountain in South End Green, and on the Heath border.

In an attempt to tackle the problem head-on, officers from Hampstead Heath Constabulary proposed that an existing Camden-wide limit on drinking in a public place could be extended to apply to a small section of the green space.

It would give police the same powers to confiscate alcohol from anyone drinking on the part of the Heath covered by the ban as in the rest of the borough, as part of Camden’s Controlled Drinking Zone (CDZ).

They made the suggestion at a meeting of Hampstead’s Safer Neighbourhood Panel (SNP) on Tuesday evening.

Pc Jenny Black, Metropolitan Police officer for Hampstead Town ward, said of the street drinking problem: “It’s an ongoing issue.”

She added: “We will take their alcohol off them when we see them, and we do tell them to leave, but they tend to keep coming back.”

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Metropolitan Police officers have powers to ask someone drinking in a public place to stop and to confiscate or dispose of alcohol under the CDZ rules.

If the drinker refuses, they can be arrested and fined up to £500.

The rules cover the whole borough, excluding Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park.

Linda Chung, vice-chairman of Hampstead’s SNP, said: “It’s a very difficult problem, because the nuisance drinkers get aggressive which is extremely off-putting to shoppers.”

However, she added: “The balance needs to be kept between the nuisance drinkers and the people having a family gathering or celebration.”

Richard Gentry, manager of Hampstead Heath Constabulary, said his team is trying to find a “suitable resolution” in response to complaints about anti-social drinking on the Heath.