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Drunken louts facing increased fines

PUBLISHED: 10:49 15 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:31 05 July 2010

DRUNKEN louts who cause trouble on the streets of Lowestoft could be hit in the pocket after a police chief revealed plans to increase the use of £80 on-the-spot fines.

DRUNKEN louts who cause trouble on the streets of Lowestoft could be hit in the pocket after a police chief revealed plans to increase the use of £80 on-the-spot fines.

Det Insp Darrel Skuse spoke of his determination to crack down on alcohol-related violence after noticing a rise in the number of incidents in the seaside town.

While serious offenders will still face action through the courts, officers on the beat will be looking to deal with trouble at an earlier stage before it escalates.

Det Insp Skuse said: “What we are saying to people is if you become disorderly it could cost you £80. We will use the fines where appropriate. They are useful at an early stage of disorder to make people think about their behaviour.”

Latest figures for Suffolk police's eastern sector, which includes Lowestoft, show that during the week beginning September 29 there were 108 incidents of violent behaviour, which was up from 82 cases in the week from September 15.

Det Insp Skuse, who has noticed an increase in Lowestoft, added: "There has been a little bit of a spike (in the figures) and we don't want it to escalate. It is about dealing with what is happening in the best possible way."

A number of initiatives are also being planned in the run-up to the busy Christmas period and while specific details have yet to be released, measures such as the use of a portable scanning device to detect if people are carrying knives are likely to be included.

In neighbouring Norfolk, Chief Constable Ian McPherson has made on-the-spot fines a key part of his bid to stamp out crimes such as disorderly behaviour and to show officers are taking a tough stance.

However on Monday, Norfolk magistrates said they had worries about the increasing use of fines and feared a new generation of criminals would be overlooked by not being taken to court.

The battle to reduce alcohol-related crime in Lowestoft is also set to see the introduction of new Designated Public Place Orders around the seafront, town centre and Oulton Broad areas.

These would give the police powers to ban troublemakers from drinking in public places and confiscate the alcohol of anyone who continues to drink after being told to stop.

Det Insp Skuse also urged anybody who witnessed drunken behaviour to alert police and co-operate by providing any information to officers.

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