THE picture you see above was taken nine years ago but it might as well have been taken today because nothing much has changed.

(And before you say it, yes, the same can’t be said of my mugshot. Very funny.)

The image shows “street drinkers” at St Botolph’s roundabout.

It is a decade on from businesses complaining about the negative effect on the area, the reason we took the picture, yet the issue persists.

The street drinkers have moved to a few different spots in the interim.

They frequented St Botolph’s Priory but have recently been made unwelcome by Colchester Council security staff.

They found a patch of wasteland off the roundabout but were turfed off there too.

Inevitably, they have gravitated back to the roundabout.

As you’ve probably read, the roundabout is set to get a much-needed, but not particularly popular, revamp. The uninviting underpasses and crumbling brickwork certainly won’t be missed though.

And I imagine Essex County Council won’t want street drinkers on its £3.5 million “plaza”.

So they will be turfed off.

No-one can blame the authorities for moving them on.

After all, they can be a nuisance and make some people feel uncomfortable.

My personal experience of groups of street drinkers in Colchester has, without wanting to get too emotive, been fine.

Two fellas exiting St Botolph’s Priory on to Priory Street with cans of lager in hand (them, not me), commented on how beautiful my little girl was.

“She” is actually a “he”, but I said thanks and they went on their way.

A couple of weekends ago, a group of about ten drinkers were congregating on a patch of grass on St Botolph’s roundabout.

I walked past. They ignored me. I ignored them.

I do appreciate having people binge drinking in public is bad for the town’s image and can be intimidating.

But what is the answer?

A national report published three years ago offering police and crime commissioners guidance on how to tackle the issue found more than 4,000 studies have been undertaken into the effect of drinking during pregnancy but fewer than 50 studies have been carried out into street drinking.

The bottom line is we don’t really know what we are dealing with...the underlying reasons people become street drinkers, the affects on towns, the solutions.

How about this? In Amsterdam, 20 problem drinkers worked from 9am to 3pm litter-picking a park, including breaks for free beer, cigarettes and a hot lunch.

In the 12 months after the programme started, police were receiving fewer reports of muggings in the park.

This was argued to be a cost-effective way to tackle the impact of alcohol, but no evaluation exists.

Very Dutch, eh? It would take a brave council to devise such a scheme in England.