‘We do care’: Thetford street drinkers clean up the town with litter-picks

The street drinkers who conducted a litter picking event in Thetford. Picture: Breckland Police

The street drinkers who conducted a litter picking event in Thetford. Picture: Breckland Police - Credit: Archant

A group of street drinkers from a Breckland town are hoping to show residents they care about the community by conducting regular litter picks.

King's Street in Thetford.
Picture: Sonya Duncan

King's Street in Thetford. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Thetford has had issues with anti-social behaviour and a number of people who drink alcohol in the town centre – which is prohibited.

MORE - Breckland communities will be consulted on legislation which will give more powers to tackle anti-social behaviour

Street drinker Tony Dowling said some people had no choice but to drink on the streets and said that did not mean they did not care.

In an attempt to turn a negative into a positive he approached Breckland Police to organise a litter pick.

However the eight people who took part in the event on October 15 were wrongly thought to be doing community service and received negative feedback.

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Mr Dowling said: 'It is about getting a positive out of a negative thing. I think that people should stop looking down on people who have less than them and are stuck in a rut and stop judging these people.'

The 53-year-old said he believed street drinking could not be stopped but hoped getting together street drinkers, and the wider community, to meet regularly to help clean the town could have a positive impact.

The litter picks will also raise money for charity.

'I am a drinker and I don't pretend to be an angel', he said. 'There are a lot of people who can't afford to go in pubs to drink. You cannot stop it.

'I can pull people together because they do care, they really do. There are a lot of people out there who do care but they just cannot help themselves.'

Mr Dowling said a lot of the street drinkers did not like causing a nuisance on the streets.

He added: 'Not all drinkers are bad people. You cannot stop it but make good of a bad situation.'

At the end of October a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) will be introduced in the town which will give police more flexibility when dealing with anti-social behaviour.

MORE- New powers to tackle anti-social behaviour set to be introduced in Thetford

PC Amy Lucas, community engagement office with Breckland Police, said street drinking and anti-social behaviour in the town was a priority.

However she said it was pleasing the street drinkers were interacting with the police and hoped to gain a rapport with them.

She added: 'We hope they are thinking about the effect they are having on the community and take action to make less impact.'

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