Leeds hospital asbo injunctions as police tackle people drinking and begging in grounds
More than a dozen injunctions and warnings have been issued as police seek to tackle the root causes of anti-social behaviour in the grounds of a Leeds hospital.
The East Leeds Neighbourhood Policing Team turned its attention to the issue after receiving reports about a small group of people repeatedly causing a nuisance outside St James's University Hospital.
It soon emerged that many of those involved had alcohol or substance abuse issues, or were vulnerable for others reasons.
Inspector Mick Preston, of the East Leeds Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: "We've had reports over a couple of months from the hospital trust about persistent anti-social behaviour.
"There's a small group of individuals turning up outside there, drinking and begging. These aren't youths. These are adults with alcohol and drug misuse issues.
"They're frequent users of the services at the hospital. They're in and out of treatment there and then causing a nuisance of themselves in the grounds. It can make people feel a little bit uncomfortable."
West Yorkshire Police already had a dedicated PCSO based at the hospital, but neighbourhood policing team colleagues have been providing extra support through increased patrols.
This has been coupled with work alongside Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team (LASBT).
It has resulted in two people being issued with anti-social behaviour injunctions, while 14 other injunction warnings have been issued.
The civil injunctions, issued by the courts, do not give the individual a criminal record but people breaching them can be fine or imprisoned.
They prohibit certain behaviour and can required the person to take positive action, such as engaging with drug or alcohol treatment services.
Inspector Preston said the team had made a number of referrals to the Forward Leeds drug and alcohol service as part of the wider work to tackle anti-social behaviour at the hospital.
"It's about tackling the issues rather than just moving it on elsewhere," he said. "It's about referring somebody into an appropriate service for their individual needs.
"It's resulted in a massive decrease in calls to that area. We want to reassure people that we're aware there's been an issue and we're taking action."
A spokesman for the hospitals trust said: "Patient and staff safety is of paramount importance. We at the trust have not only stepped up patrols as a reassurance but we’ve also increased the work we have been doing with our partners - particularly the police and Leeds City Council – in not just moving people on but supporting them in engaging with the right services to help people who may be vulnerable to get the right support and help.”