Weymouth seafront continues to be a hotspot for alcohol-fuelled disorder.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show that the number of times police attended alcohol-related incidents on the Esplanade has gone up. 

Officers attended 590 alcohol-related incidents in Weymouth between 2015-2016 and more than a third of these took place on the Esplanade, with police attending 201 incidents along the seafront; 20 more than the previous year. 

Adjoining streets St Thomas Street and King Street are the second and third most troublesome spots, with police attending 61 and 43 call-outs respectively in the same period. 

The majority of call-outs involved anti-social behaviour, though police were called to some reports of sexual offences, violence, criminal damage and domestic incidents.

The overall number of alcohol-related call-outs attended by police in Weymouth has reduced, with officers attending 10 fewer incidents in 2015-16 than in the previous year and 140 fewer incidents than in 2014-15.

Figures for streets including St Thomas Street and King Street also reduced slightly year-on-year until 2016 but the Esplanade bucked this trend, with an increase of 13 incidents between 2014-15 and 2015-16. 

There has long been concern over the town's problem with drinking.

Since the beginning of the year, police have carried out 12 engagement events specifically focusing on St Thomas Street and King Street which were attended by more than 2,000 members of the public. 

Dorset Police set its priorities based on feedback gained from the community during the meetings, with one being to focus on tackling anti-social behaviour, including street drinking. 

In May, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council's licensing committee discussed proposals to introduce a cumulative impact policy (CIP), which could prevent new pubs and clubs from opening in the town centre in a bid to curb late-night violence.

A letter from Public Health, submitted as part of the consultation, supported the policy, stating Melcombe Regis has the highest number of alcohol-related assaults in Dorset, and is in the top five wards in the county for alcohol-related hospital admissions.

The council has undertaken initiatives in partnership with other agencies including working with the CCTV team, police operation to target excessive drinking, Best Bar None and Pubwatch schemes, enforcement visits, and introducing a Designated Public Places Order.

At the beginning of the year, Weymouth was chosen by the government to host a new programme aimed at tackling drink-fuelled crime and violence.

As one of the Home Office’s Local Alcohol Action Areas (LAAA), councils, police, health bodies and others will come together with businesses to address problems caused by alcohol and make streets safer at night.

Police Sergeant Jane Moore said: “There are a number of initiatives currently underway in the town centre area focusing on tackling alcohol-related crime.

“Operation Pattern is where officers are specifically deployed to patrol the town centre over the weekend evenings where police work alongside Pubwatch and the Local Alcohol Action group.

“We continue to issue Community Protection Warning letters, Community Protection Notices and Criminal Behaviour Orders to reduce the number of alcohol-related crimes in our town.

“This work is carried out in conjunction with partner agencies such as the Dorset Councils Partnership ASB and Community Safety Team and local housing agencies.

“Weymouth has already successfully introduced positive initiatives such as Best Bar None, RU2Drunk and the street pastors.

“We will continue to work alongside our partners to reduce alcohol-related call-outs in Weymouth and to establish support networks and treatment to help those involved.”

Top spots
The Esplanade - 201 
St Thomas Street - 61
King Street - 43
Maiden Street - 40
St Edmund Street - 28

Dorset Echo:

Councillior Francis Drake, WPBC’s briefholder for community safety, said: “The council works hard with its partners, particularly Dorset Police, to tackle alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour in the town.

“The funding cuts from central government have reduced the number of police officers in Dorset and really stretched our resources too but, by working together, we’ve achieved a lot - with more to do.

“We have a number of ongoing initiatives to try and deter alcohol related-crime in Weymouth. These include our Cumulative Impact Policy.

“We hold regular night time economy meetings which bring together a number of professionals from a range of organisations to develop and implement strategies for dealing with the night time economy. Part of this meeting is to try and arrange funding or membership for schemes such as Purple Flag. 

“We have recently been granted LAAA status. 

“This allows us to join a number of authorities around the country to share best practice experience and pass on information of other schemes.

“Our licensing and community safety teams work closely with Dorset Police by:
  Sharing information on premises (such as assaults, noise, opening after hours)
  Conducting joint enforcement visits where appropriate 
  Using our CCTV cameras to prevent, detect and reduce crime
“We also work with street pastors and South Western Ambulance service to 
try and ensure a safer night time economy.”