The Metropolitan Police have branded a North London shop’s plans to sell alcohol 24 hours a day as ‘ridiculous’.
The force has called for the application to be refused over fears it will make the already high crime levels in the area worse, with three robberies linked to the premises.
Local shop New Sidney Market, on Neasden Lane North in Brent, has applied to the council for a licence to sell alcohol 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Currently, it can only sell booze from 8am to 11pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 10.30pm Sunday.
The store owner, Jashvant Rai Joshi, claims extending the hours is essential to help the business survive an “extremely difficult economic situation” but the police are concerned it will further fuel crime on the street. There have been four crimes linked directly to the venue over the past year, including three robberies, according to police figures.
In a document submitted to Brent Council’s licensing team, Police Sergeant Matt Leighton has called for the plan to be thrown out due to Neasden’s long-standing “street drinking issue”. The town centre is now subject to significant policing efforts to clamp down on incidents that have caused residents “untold harm” due to violence and antisocial behaviour.
PS Leighton said: “Recent figures show assaults and violence incidents are at 26 for the last 12 weeks. Many of these are alcohol related. Late night food and late night alcohol is a recipe for significant issues for policing.”
The premises falls within the Neasden Lane North CIZ (Cumulative Impact Zone) – areas where licences are strictly controlled to limit any problems – which was introduced specifically to help combat crime, street drinking, and antisocial behaviour caused by alcohol sales
PC Phil Graves said: “Allowing this application to go ahead will only add to the already high level of crime and antisocial behaviour in this area of Brent. Of the four crime figures linked directly to the venue three of them are for robberies. One for a robbery of the venue itself and the other two were robberies where one of the suspects was drunk.”
He added: “Requesting a 24/7 extension to a venue that already suffers from a high level of crime is a ridiculous suggestion for the entire community of Brent and Neasden Lane.
“Police struggle to cope with the current level of calls most hours of the day. Allowing a venue to operate selling alcohol on a 24/7 basis will put the police, NHS and local authorities at breaking point.”
Brent Council’s licensing officers have also recommended that the application be refused due to the “likely negative impact” extending the hours would have on the local area. This is a sentiment shared by local ward councillor, Amer Agha.
Cllr Agha said: “We can’t afford late night selling of food and alcohol in this part of the ward. Residents will be upset if we grant the permission as they are already suffering from ASB incidents in this area. I am not against any business propositions in my ward but definitely, not at the cost of public safety.”
Mr Joshi is fully aware of the CIZ in place in the area but believes that, by introducing a number of “robust conditions”, being able to sell alcohol 24 hours a day will have “no effect” on public safety.
He claims this provides “an opportunity” to add conditions that will benefit both the council and police, including installing more CCTV cameras, frequent staff training, and employing a licensed security guard between 11pm and 8am on Friday and Saturday nights.
He added: “This change in hours is necessary for the business to survive in the extremely difficult economic situation many retailers find themselves in, and this change is required to protect the future of the business.”
A decision on whether or not to grant the licence will be made by Brent Council’s Alcohol and Licensing Sub-Committee on October 31.