REST Centre for street drinkers planned

Consultation is starting over a proposal to establish a facility for street drinkers in Liverpool city centre.

It is being proposed that a REST (rehabilitation, education, support and treatment) centre be set up in a former drugs dependency unit in Roscoe Street.

The move follows a successful pilot project in the summer of 2012 in a temporary location in Renshaw Street which identified the need for a permanent facility.

The centre would allow health agencies to engage with street drinkers.  It aims to support individuals and work with them, helping them, reduce their alcohol intake. It will also help them access other services such as housing and homeless support.

Street drinkers will be allowed to consume alcohol on the premises but at all times will be supervised and helped to change their lifestyles

It is intended that the centre should operate between 12 noon and 8pm seven days a week during the summer, but there will be flexibility on its opening times depending on the time of the year.

Councillor Peter Brennan, Mayoral Lead for Community Safety said: “Street drinkers are quite vulnerable people many of whom lead chaotic and disorganised lives, often because they have extremely difficult backgrounds. But, however, harrowing their situation it is recognised that they can pose a nuisance and can be intimidating to passers-by.

“If we just try to continue with the present policy of police enforcement it means that large amounts of police and health services’ time and resources are taken up on this issue and it does nothing to get to the root of the problem. The proposed REST centre –which is in an area where street drinkers already gather – will give them access to health and other agencies who have the expertise over many years to help them turn their lives around

“The pilot facility resulted in fewer arrests and admissions to accident and emergency units and demonstrated a need for a more permanent indoor facility in a  location which uses a new approach over street drinkers.

“But it is important that we get local people and businesses’ views and give them the chance to raise issues they may have so we are starting a consultation process about this very important issue.”

Residents and businesses have been invited to a meeting on 8 April at the Student Union building in Maryland Street.

It is intended that, subject to all necessary consents being in place, the REST centre will be operational from the summer which is the peak time for street drinking.