Assistance and enforcement in equal measure in Blackpool begging and Spice crackdown

People have been seen smoking what is believed to be Spice in Blackpool
People have been seen smoking what is believed to be Spice in Blackpool
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Police and council officials have launched a week-long crackdown on begging, street drinking and the use of illegal drug Spice in Blackpool.

Teams of police and Blackpool Council staff have been hitting the streets in a co-ordinated operation aimed at both helping and forcing people off the streets.

The high visibility patrols are already paying off with eight people given community protections warnings.

Of those two people have contacted council staff for help with housing.

One further individual has been referred to the courts for the failure to adhere to the terms of his community protection order.

Sgt Iain Andrew, of Blackpool Town Centre Neighbourhood team is determined to get on top of the issue.

He said: “As many people will be aware we have seen an increase in the number of people of the streets who are homeless or begging.

“This is particularly an issue in the areas around Talbot Road and Queen Street

“It is something we have to tackle.

“The operation this week is aimed at tackling issues including street begging, alcohol use and the use of Spice.

“We are working with Blackpool Council and we are trying to get help for those people who need it.

“But equally we need to make sure those who do not want to accept help are being dealt with.”

Police are working with Blackpool Council Outreach, trading standards officers and drug and alcohol rehabilitation service Horizon along with wardens from Blackpool BID to tackle the problem.

Mounted officers have been drafted into the town centre to provide a greater visible presence.

Sgt Andrew said: “Mounted division are assisting us with the operation.

“With several different organisations involved this is a highly visible operation.

“We are working in the town centre and people will be able to see the operation taking place, they will see the work we are doing.

“We have already had eight interations with individuals, following which two people came forward to Housing Options team, actively seeking accommodation, with several others agreeing to do the same.”

Sgt Andrew said authorities had powers at their disposal to deal with those not willing to change their behaviour.

He said: “We are not only offering support but making sure there is robust enforcement.

“The first stage is the use of community protection warnings.

“If a person does not respond to that then we can make a community protection order.

“Breaching that can end in court proceedings and prosecution.

“One person has already been arrested for failing to stick to the terms of such an order and will be appearing before the courts.”