A shop in Brent’s plan to sell alcohol 24 hours a day has been refused over fears it would make already high crime levels in the area worse. The Metropolitan Police had branded the idea ‘ridiculous’ after three robberies had already been linked to the premises.
Brent Council’s alcohol and entertainment licensing sub-committee rejected the application by New Sidney Market, on Neasden Lane North. The shop can already sell booze from 8am to 11pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 10.30pm Sunday but the committee felt extending the hours would fuel crime.
The police, ward councillor, and council licensing officers had all called on the committee to refuse the plan due to the negative impact it would have on the area, an opinion that was shared by councillors. There were fears that it would add to the issues already existing in Neasden.
The town centre is already subject to significant policing efforts to clamp down on violence and antisocial behaviour incidents that have caused residents ‘untold harm’, according to Police Sergeant Matt Leighton.
In a document submitted to Brent Council’s licensing team, 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 store owner, Jashvant Rai Joshi, said extending the hours would be essential to help the business survive an ‘extremely difficult economic situation’. However, the latest police data reveals that there have been four crimes linked directly to the venue over the past year.
The premises fall 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: “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.”
This sentiment was shared by local ward councillor, Amer Agha, who said the area ‘can’t afford’ to have this kind of late-night selling of alcohol. He said: “Residents will be upset […] 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 tried to argue that being able to sell alcohol 24 hours a day would have ‘no effect’ on public safety and would implement mitigation measures including installing more CCTV cameras, frequent staff training, and employing a licensed security guard between 11pm and 8am on Friday and Saturday nights. However, the committee opted to listen to the recommendations and refuse the application.