Norfolk MP goes on the beat

A Norfolk MP last night said he had “massive cause for concern” over the excessive drinking in market towns after he spent Saturday night on the beat.Norman Lamb joined the special constables in Sheringham to celebrate the increasing numbers of volunteers signing up in his north Norfolk constituency.

A Norfolk MP last night said he had "massive cause for concern" over the excessive drinking in market towns after he spent Saturday night on the beat.

Norman Lamb joined the special constables in Sheringham to celebrate the increasing numbers of volunteers signing up in his north Norfolk constituency.

But he said the experience gave him cause for concern about the binge drinking taking place in market towns.

"I am full of admiration for these people who volunteer their time to serve their community, but most of their time is hindered by people who have had far too much to drink.

"I came across a lot of people who were clearly the worse for wear and when they become violent it is completely unacceptable.

"There is a lot of heavy drinking that goes on in market towns and that coupled with the effects it has is a massive cause of concern for me. Everyone knows that it goes on in the cities but it's just as bad in the countryside."

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Sheringham has recently introduced a bylaw which allows police to remove drinks from people who are in a specified area of the town.

The law was brought in after it was shown that in certain places there were a high number of drink-related problems.

And now the Liberal Democrat MP is keen to spread it to other areas in Norfolk. He said: "I would really like to see this local law put into practice across other market towns and hopefully that will happen.

"It's been very effective in Sheringham - when I was there it was a really quiet evening, and I think it would do a lot of good in other places that are experiencing high levels of drink-related trouble.

"It would also mean that police won't be spread thinly on the ground which they are when lots of them are required to attend fights.

"This is why the specials are so important, I saw one woman standing in the middle of a fight trying to break it up and she volunteers for that."

New figures show that the last five years have seen numbers of special constables drop in central and western Norfolk but the eastern area, which covers Norman Lamb's north Norfolk constituency, has increased.

He said: "Special constables provide an invaluable voluntary service to the community."