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There is no general prohibition on drinking in the street but certain offences relating to alcohol may be committed in “public places” (this generally means “any place to which the public have access, whether on payment or otherwise” (the Licensing Act 1872 and subsequent Licensing Acts)).

Councils can use public spaces protection orders to restrict the consumption of alcohol in a public space where it is associated with anti-social behaviour. It is an offence to fail to comply with a request to stop drinking or to surrender alcohol in a controlled drinking area.

The police can disperse individuals engaged in anti-social behaviour where alcohol is a factor. It is an offence to fail to comply with a direction to leave an area.

Other offences include being drunk and disorderly in a public place and being drunk in any highway or other public place.

This Briefing refers to the law in England and Wales.

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