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Police oppose off-licence plan in Brent

The Metropolitan Police are urging a North London council to refuse plans for a new off-licence in the borough over fears it will further fuel street crime in the area. Officers have been called to this part of Harlesden more than 150 times over the past six months.

Brent Council has received an application to open a new convenience store on Craven Park Road, to replace the newsagent Newsfare. The applicant, Kajanthan Karthigesu, wants to open from 7am until 11pm every day and sell alcohol until 10pm.

However, documents submitted to the council reveal that the police are calling for the plan to be thrown out. The force is concerned about increasing the sale and consumption of alcohol in an area “already suffering from very high crime figures”.

The report states that there are already eight places on Craven Park Road that sell alcohol, which results in increased “crime, disorder, public nuisance, antisocial behaviour (ASB) and street drinking”.

Police figures show that there have been 154 recorded crimes on the road over the past six months, including assaults, drug possession, racist attacks, and thefts. During this period, 240 calls to the police have resulted in 37 stop and searches, 46 arrests and 30 responses to complaints of antisocial behaviour.

In the report, PC Brendon McInnes said: “This community does not require another venue selling alcohol which will only fuel the street crime, ASB and create price wars between rival off-licences. […] I see no benefits in adding another bog standard off licence with the existing crime rate”.

The council’s licensing officer also called for the plan to be refused. They said: “Adding an additional off licence to the eight that already exist in the immediate area, will no doubt be detrimental to the local area”

They added: ”Based on my conversation with Kajanthan Karthigesu, I am not confident that he will be able to uphold the licensing objectives. Harlesden is a challenging area of the borough fuelled with ASB including street drinking, therefore adding another off licence in the area will not benefit the wider community”.

The premises falls within a cumulative impact zone (CIZ) – areas where licences are strictly controlled to limit any problems. It was introduced in January 2020 in order to combat a rise in the types of crime that are linked to alcohol consumption and abuse.

Mr Karthigesu, who already owns another off-licence in Hammersmith, claims he “know[s] the area” and everywhere has problems, not just Harlesden. He said: “People are alright. There is always something happening in the area and I’m not too bothered about the issues. There are issues with young boys, not alcohol problems”.

The application will be heard by Brent Council’s Alcohol and Licensing Sub-Committee next month (October 3) when a decision on whether to grant the licence will be made.