HANDING over your alcohol and drugs is enough to avoid a fine under plans that aim to deter anti-social behaviour in public spaces.

Public Space Protection Orders were introduced across Taunton in 2015, and in Wellington in 2017.

The scheme was used to replace other drinking bans that were used for smaller areas of the town.

But no fines have been given - as people caught with substances only need to surrender it to avoid further action.

A spokesman for Taunton Deane said: “No fixed penalty notices have been issued in either area.

“The preferred method at present is to deal with issues by way of a Community Protection Warning where appropriate.

“Members of the public are reminded that if a person refuses to surrender the alcohol/substance they are committing an offence of failing to surrender and appropriate action can be taken.

“However, as the offence is failing to surrender the alcohol, by surrendering it, they are able to comply with the law and avoid a fine.”

Members of the Friends of Wellington Park have defended the orders, stating that other things need to be done to reduce anti-social behaviour in the park.

Somerset County Gazette:

The damage at the shelter. 

Vice chairman David Mitton said: “They are effective when they are applied. We need to have local policing to identify the problem, then act on that.

“At the park, the problem is mindless vandalism, not drugs and alcohol. This results in damage at the public loos, the shelter and the gate.

“The daft thing is, they will leave their names in the graffiti.”

Mr Mitton added that he thought a good way to control the behaviour is to have a publicised number residents could call if they spot any vandalism taking place, instead of having to approach them yourself.

Somerset County Gazette:

Somerset County Gazette:

More damage at the park. 

Somerset County Gazette:

Mr Laity.

Elsewhere across the Deane, the council has appointed a new street wise coordinator to tackle the problem.

Ian Laity took up his post this month on an 18-month pilot project to help to tackle aggressive begging, rough sleeping and street anti-social behaviour including drinking and drug use.

Mr Laity’s role will take a multi-agency approach working with the Avon and Somerset Police, Taunton Association for the Homeless and Open Door.

Cllr Jane Warmington, executive councillor for community leadership, said: “I am delighted to welcome Ian to the team as part of our efforts to make Taunton a safe and pleasant place to live and work.

“The council will continue to take a preventative and supportive approach as its default position but recognises that enforcement is also needed in some circumstances and Ian’s job is to help us strike the right balance.

“Even through enforcement action we are always looking for positive outcomes for individuals with the help and support of relevant agencies.”

A spokesperson for TDBC said: “There is no simple solution to the problem of anti-social behaviour particularly that associated with homelessness.

“It’s a national issue and authorities across the country are trying to address it through a range of different measures.

“Taunton Deane Borough Council is actively working with the Avon and Somerset Police to tackle the problem in our town centre using Public Space Protection Orders. The appointment of a dedicated Streetwise Co-ordinator demonstrates our commitment to this.

“However, both authorities are aware that there are a range of options available within current legislation, and we are looking into these while continuing to address the issue and ensure that people are directed to the relevant agencies for ongoing support.”