THE officer in charge of policing Bradford city centre has pledged to stamp out the growing problem of nuisance street drinkers.

And Inspector Andy Gallant, the newly-appointed head of the Bradford City Area Neighbourhood Team, has pledged his officers will take robust action against those "who cross the line".

He has set up Operation Keyarm in response to concerns about the impact anti-social behaviour by problem drinkers in and around the city centre is having in areas including City Park.

Retailers who sell alcohol in the city centre have already been consulted on the new zero-tolerance approach, and any businesses found contributing to the problem could be stripped of their licences to sell booze.

Insp Gallant said: "It is clear to me that the issue of street drinking is a cause for concern with both the users of the city centre and those that have businesses, and I am making a stance against those that cross the line.

"The police will always look to tackle this issue positively, and anyone found to be acting in an anti-social manner, whether alcohol is involved or not, will be dealt with.

"Operation 'Keyarm' is the first robust leg of a raft of measures that will support those that have alcohol issues, while making it clear that drinking and carrying on will not be tolerated."

Officers in the NPT team have been instructed to use their powers to head-off anti-social behaviour before it occurs rather than wait for situations to escalate and cause greater problems.

They include:

* Issuing direction to leave notices, active for up to 48 hours, to those who are linked with or have a history of causing problems in the city centre when in drink.

* Carrying out regular reassurance patrols by trained officers.

* And reminding off-licences holders of their responsibilities around selling alcohol.

In persistent circumstances, licences will be revoked from businesses seen to be ignoring the campaign for responsible drinking.

Insp Gallant said: "Invigorating this legislation, along with the drinking orders that exist within the city, will be key to a committed approach to tackling the problem.

"As well as making arrests and issuing banning orders, we are also putting street drinkers in touch with rehabilitation services.

"If Bradford is to mature into a city that attracts more visitors and deserved positive perceptions, we must take responsibility to make the environment user-friendly while acknowledging the issues city centres attract.

"I am already grateful for the positive response from businesses in and around the city square, and I will continue to visibly tackle these important issues, working with partners to create sustainable solutions."

The crackdown under 'Operation Keyarm' has already led to a number of arrests this week for people being drunk and disorderly, shoplifting alcohol, breaching bail and anti-social behaviour order conditions, persistent begging, and drinking from open vessels.

The issue will also be brought before a full meeting of Bradford Council next week, with Councillor Simon Cooke, deputy leader of the Conservative group, set to ask what actions are in place to reduce the impact of anti-social street drinking, and the support offered to street drinkers in addressing their problems.

Cllr Cooke said last night: "I agree that police enforcement is needed, but it won't work on its own.

"Simply moving these people on won't work, as they will just come back.

"We need a joined up approach with areas such as public health to try to provide appropriate support to these people."

Referring to incidents in City Park, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, the executive member for culture, said: "There have been four million visitors to City Park in the past year, and the percentage of problem incidents is very small.

"However, we do take the issues of drinking and anti-social behaviour seriously and we are working with the police to take decisive action.

"City Park has developed into an award-winning space and we won't allow a few individuals to spoil it."