A new ban on public drinking in Slough will only be enforced where officers see anti-social behaviour or suspect it could occur, council leaders have said.

Slough Borough Council leaders approved the public drinking ban on Monday June 17. It will be enforceable by police and town centre wardens with an on the spot fine of up to £100 from July 1.

But council leader Dexter Smith said officers would ‘use their discretion’ before doling out fines, adding that they are not ‘busybodies'. He said: “This is only applied where they see antisocial behaviour fuelled by alcohol.”

The public space protection order gives police and Slough business improvement district wardens powers to stop drinking in public.

Under the new rule ‘the consumption of alcohol or being in possession of an open container that is reasonably believed to contain alcohol’ will be prohibited.

It will also be an offence to stop drinking alcohol or to refuse to hand alcohol over to police or authorised officers when asked.

The order was approved by the council’s cabinet – its group of leading councillors – on Monday. But some cabinet members raised concerns that the ban would be disproportionately used against homeless people.

Councillor Wal Chahal said he supported the proposal but wanted ‘a level of empathy in what is offered to those that are really vulnerable in our society and use alcohol as a way of numbing their existence'.

He told officers: “They do urinate all over the place they do drink alcohol throughout the daytime and it’s a problem. But we’ve got to make sure that what put in place is mindful of their circumstances as well.”

Councillor Wahal also questioned whether homeless people would be able to pay the fine.

And councillor Mabu Shaik asked: “Is this public order applied equally to all communities? We don’t want to target a specific community – addicts for example.”

Councillor Smith replied that officers would use their discretion before enforcing the ban or issuing punishments.

He said: “Critically I think the point is this is allowing the police or Slough BID wardens using their discretion. They’re not going to do anything unless they see antisocial behaviour.

“They don’t know what people are drinking, they’re not busybodies, they’re not going to interfere and say what are you drinking unless there is antisocial behaviour.”

He added he thought the ban would have ‘a very positive impact on all of the residents of Slough'.

He said: “It will give users of our parks and open spaces greater confidence. Bad behaviour will be challenged and dealt with but equally it will be used on the streets of our town.”