Police banned 145 troublemakers from Newcastle town centre last year – twice as many as in the previous 12 months.
Staffordshire Police issued the 48-hour bans as part of efforts to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence and antisocial behaviour, especially at night.
In 2016, officers used these powers 70 times in the town centre, including 51 times at night. But in 2017 this rose to 145 bans, including 98 issued at night.
Sgt David Barrow, of Newcastle Local Policing Team, told councillors that the increase was largely due to the rise in drink-related issues at weekends.
Speaking at a meeting of Newcastle Borough Council’s licensing and public protection committee, Sgt Barrow said: “We find [the bans] really useful. If we can get in before a punch is thrown it saves violent events occurring.
“Our use of them has gone up drastically over the last two years. In 2016 we used 70 – 51 being during the night time. In 2017 that doubled to 145, with 98 in the night time, which shows how the night time economy is going and the drink-fuelled issues we face on a Friday and Saturday night.”
The committee members agreed to retain the council’s ‘cumulative impact policy’, which was introduced to control the number of licensed premises in the town centre.
According to the report to the committee, the number of pubs and clubs sited within one area of the town had ‘a detrimental impact on levels of crime and disorder’.
The policy means the council can refuse to grant new licenses if it receives representations relating to the impact on licensing objectives – such as preventing crime and disorder – which are backed up by evidence, unless it can be demonstrated that the premises will not add to the issues already being experienced.
But Sgt Barrow stressed that the measures are not a bar to the opening of new premises or expansion of the town’s night time economy.
Violent crime levels are at their highest on Friday and Saturday nights, and the early hours of the morning – when venues are closing their doors – are a particularly challenging time for police trying to stop trouble arising.
Committee members raised concerns about crime and antisocial behaviour in the town centre during the day too, including ‘blatant’ drug dealing in the middle of the day.
Councillor John Williams highlighted the use of synthetic drugs such as monkey dust.
Sgt Barrow said: “We have arrested 20 people in the last six weeks; several of those are for drug-related offences.
“If you see something like that, chances are there is going to be officers in the town centre. If you report it when it is happening we can get the CCTV cameras to cover it and officers there to stop, search and potentially arrest.
“But it is difficult if you say ‘that person has been dealing yesterday’ and they have nothing on them today. It leaves us in a difficult position.
“Drugs are that easily available. I’m sure you have heard of monkey dust. That’s cheaper than a bag of cannabis and it’s stronger than a bag of heroin.”
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