We spent an hour at Huddersfield's street drinking hotspot and it was chaotic


It is barely 4pm on a Wednesday afternoon but there's something of a party atmosphere for the street drinkers of Huddersfield town centre.

Someone is blasting out dance music from a speaker and several street drinkers are downing strong lager from cans. There is shouting, screaming, arguing, dancing, spitting and the spilling of drinks. One woman climbs a wall to dance around on high.

You might see all of this inside a rowdy pub just before last orders but these Wednesday afternoon antics are taking place in the Market Place, the historic centre of town, with office workers and families going about their day.

Read more: Caged Huddersfield killer who hid body in cellar 'doesn't feel ready for release'

Passersby shrug when I ask them to comment. One man says: "Live and let live."

Quite a few people seem resigned to the poor behaviour. They hurry by and try their best not to look or get involved. One woman says: "I don't look at them. I just walk past. It doesn't bother me."

But the shop workers, who cannot simply walk away, seem to have a different opinion. They are fed up of it and they think this kind of antisocial behaviour could put people off visiting the centre.

Huddersfield Market Place in the town centre has become a hotspot for street drinking and rowdy behaviour -Credit:Yorkshire Live
Huddersfield Market Place in the town centre has become a hotspot for street drinking and rowdy behaviour -Credit:Yorkshire Live

One shop worker says today's behaviour is the worst he has seen for a while. He says that it might be considered to be 'intimidating', particularly to children or older people. The worker says: "They do a lot of shouting and sometimes fighting."

The shouting and screaming dies down for a few minutes and then flares up. Three men on the periphery of the main group are doing some scratch cards and are keeping a low profile, with cider hidden beneath clothing.

A man shouts 'f*** off' at the top of his voice at no one in particular. I can hear him discussing an earlier run-in with a police officer who he says confiscated his beer.

"They took my f****** beer - it all went in my eye," he slurs. "The music is f******g hyper," comments a man sitting beside me. There's the stink of weed in the air as a man spits on the pavement.

A dad walks by with his children. He says the drinking scene is 'not nice' but he believes in letting people live their lives.

A shop worker says this is the kind of thing that puts people off the town centre. She says they drink in the Market Place every day.

By 4.30pm, a couple more street drinkers have arrived. They are swearing and one appears to be very drunk. One man yells out 'you little f*****' at the top of his voice. People turn to look but don't hang around. People parking up nearby look puzzled and a bit alarmed.

A man drops his full can and the beer slops all over the paving stones, causing others to scream and jeer. The rowdy behaviour is pretty much non-stop and there doesn't appear to be any police around or anyone else to keep a lid on things.

A few minutes later, the drunks are throwing things at each other. One man staggers away, heading off down Kirkgate. He leaves behind a couple of empty cans, not bothering with the litter bins.

After almost an hour, it's time to leave. I can hear the drinkers shouting at each other as I head along New Street.

Yorkshire Live approached West Yorkshire Police and Kirklees Council to comment. The Force recently took action against Andrew Hackin for causing a nuisance in the town centre. He was banned from the town centre and then jailed when he ignored it.

A spokesman for the Safer Kirklees partnership said: "We understand the concerns that have been raised by retailers and shoppers in Huddersfield town centre and would like to reassure the public that we are working together as part of the Safer Kirklees partnership, to address issues with antisocial behaviour related to street drinking.

"The area is covered by a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) obtained by Kirklees Council. Both the police and council can also issue Community Protection Notices (CPNs) in instances where an individual's behaviour has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality, is unreasonable and is of a persistent nature. Breaches of both the PSPO and CPNs are a criminal offence.

"The police and council also work together to obtain Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs) against individuals involved in persistent antisocial or criminal behaviour. The CBO puts conditions on the individual which can include a ban from a certain area. Again, a breach of a CBO is a criminal offence and can result in a custodial sentence.

"The town centre policing team conduct regular patrols of the area, both in uniform but also in plain clothes, and utilise their powers to confiscate alcohol and move people away from the area.

"Reporting any antisocial behaviour like street drinking, rowdy or noisy behaviour helps us respond to issues and identify any areas of concern."

Get all the latest and breaking Huddersfield news straight to your inbox by signing up to our daily newsletter here.

Sam Sharp, manager with the Huddersfield BID (Business Improvement District), said: "We recognise there is an issue with town centre drinkers and begging and we are hoping that the current PSPO (Public Space Protection Order) will be updated soon, which will help to deal with these issues. This is in the hands of the local authority.

"Our Street Rangers patrol the whole Huddersfield BID area over seven days and we do engage when matters get out of hand with street drinkers as well as report incidents of begging. If the Rangers witness anti-social behaviour, they will approach the individuals and engage with them, asking them to move on or contacting the police if necessary. We will continue to work in the town centre towards our objectives and work with relevant stakeholders in the town to improve the current PSPO."

Sam says the PSPO needed updating, adding: "Currently it is not illegal to drink or beg within the town centre according to the PSPO. So the PSPO needs updating to make it illegal and then it can be dealt with in a legal sense."

  • If anyone wants to make a report, call West Yorkshire Police on 101 (non-urgent) or go online here