THE “scourge” of street drinkers in Bradford city centre could soon become a thing of the past thanks to a new scheme set up by police and Bradford BID using SmartWater.

The project will use existing legal powers combined with the latest forensic technology, to stop ‘super-strength’ booze being sold to street drinkers.

SmartWater will be used to trace where street drinkers are buying their booze from, so that police can work with retailers to educate them on the problem and hopefully cut off the supply to problem drinkers.

A trial of the project ran in Wakefield and reduced street drinking by around 60 per cent.

The project was unveiled in Oastler Square at the top of town, one of Bradford’s hotspots for street drinking.

Ian Ward, chair of Bradford BID and general manager of the Broadway, said: “Street drinking is a cause of great concern to both the public and businesses.

“It can lead to serious anti-social behaviour which creates a nuisance for visitors and intimidates shoppers, workers and residents who are forced to go out of their way to avoid it.

“It is a serious blight and we felt supporting this initiative by West Yorkshire Police and their city centre officers was a really effective way to get to grips with the problem.”

Alcohol retailers around the top of town have agreed to mark their stock with SmartWater, with a unique forensic colour code for each business and a direct link back to the premises.

Almost invisible in normal light, SmartWater distinctively glows under UV light and is nigh on impossible to rub or wash off.

Combined with legal powers used by police in the city centre, such as Community Protection Warnings and Community Protection Notices, it is hoped this will eradicate the problem.

If retailers fail to comply, they face prosecution and substantial penalties.

Inspector Pete Hall, who leads the city centre Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We are aware that disorderly street drinking is of concern to many people and the NPT is always proactive in tackling it.

“This new initiative is an important step forward in helping us to work closely with retailers to deter potential crime and nuisance.

“This is not about catching out retailers, but it is important that we work together to tackle the source of these problems and prevent them from spreading.

“The fact that two retailers have already agreed to stop stocking higher-strength beers at all is a very encouraging start.

“We’re very pleased to be working with Bradford BID on this and we’re grateful for the support of businesses, through the BID, in providing the funding to make this happen.”

Inspector Hall added there are hopes to roll the scheme out across the district if it is a success.

He said: “We have to acknowledge it is a possibility they will buy alcohol from further afield, but if demand drops here we will work elsewhere and if it is successful spread it across Bradford.”

Jonny Noble, Bradford BID manager, said: “A major part of our role as a BID is to make the city centre a better place for everyone who uses it.

“Tackling street drinking is a top priority for levy-paying businesses and working with the city centre’s excellent neighbourhood policing team is a brilliant way to have a direct impact on this scourge.”

Catherine Riley, chairman of City Centre Beat which is also part-funding the project, said: “We know that cutting off the very local supply of high strength booze will prevent a small minority of problem drinkers from creating both a nuisance and a negative impression which can have a damaging effect on the city centre economy.

“All city centres have this type of problem, but we believe this project can be a positive force in our determined efforts to wipe it out in Bradford.”

The scheme will initially operate on a three-month trial before a decision is made whether to extend it.