OUT IN THE FIELD: Street drinkers – town must admit it has problems
The unpleasant problem of Eastbourne’s street drinkers has reared its head again and now the police are being asked to put more of their resources into dealing with the issue. While a handful of extra officers would be nice, this just isn’t going to work. As someone else with far more experience – and compassion too – pointed out to me it always seems that enforcement is the answer, but this has failed and will always fail. Multi-agency meetings have taken place regarding this very issue for more than 10 years – then they have a re-brand every once in a while and it all begins again. However these too have proven ineffective when we live in a town where too many key decision makers are unwilling to think dynamically and creatively as to how to solve the complex issues. People with complex needs are bundled into temporary accommodation, which can often in itself be a boiling pot of wide ranging issues, with no support and then we wonder why these placements break down? There is no hostel for these people. Yes, there are day centres where people can go and access services. But that is only part of a very big jigsaw puzzle that needs to fit together to give people a real chance of getting their lives back on track. What Eastbourne needs is to admit it has problems, and provide creative solutions to addressing them. Arresting people and putting them through the criminal justice system is not an adequate response and is merely a sticking plaster over wider social issues.