Wisbech store wins licensing battle despite police fears over ‘fuelling crime hotspot’

A Wisbech store has won the right to sell alcohol from a new premises despite objections from police, who said it would fuel a major crime hotspot.

Haran’s All in One Store, in Norfolk Street, was granted permission to sell alcohol from 6am until midnight at a Fenland District Council Licensing Committee hearing on Monday.

The licence will transfer from the neighbouring Haran’s Best Price shop but councillors imposed a string of conditions and insisted that applicant Kanapathipillai Thivakaran maintains a “premises guidance manual”.

Police objections highlighted Norfolk Street as a crime hotspot and showed that offences there had doubled since 2010 - with eight crimes taking place between January and April this year.

The store was granted a licence extension in January, allowing them to serve alcohol until 1am. Incidents in the surrounding area increased to 42 between January and April, with 10 of these reported between the hours of 11pm-2am.

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Anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and violent offences had all increased and more than 30 per cent were linked to alcohol.

Councillors were provided with a catalogue of crime, which revealed offences including assault, sexual assault, robbery, wounding and racially aggravated harassment.

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Police claimed that the current shop was “not well managed” with poor record-keeping and a failure to refuse sale to intoxicated customers.

Sergeant Dave Bax said: “The staff at the current premises do not appear to have sufficient control measures in place to reduce crime and disorder, or public nuisance.”

Police had taken photographs of alcohol stored in unlicensed areas and Sgt Bax concluded that there was a “high probability” that the licence would be “fuelling drink related anti-social behaviour”.

The licensing committee, chaired by Councillor Kay Mayor, said that they were “concerned about the increase in incidents in the area.

“There is obvious evidence of bad practice and record-keeping, either not being maintained or poor, inadequate training and lack of knowledge of the licensing regulations.

“We are concerned that these bad practices will transfer from the old premises to the new without strong management control.”

But the application was granted after councillors stated that they were “encouraged by the new Code of Practice and new shop layout which we hope will alleviate the bad practices.”

Haran’s All in One Store will be able to sell alcohol from designated areas only. A premises guidance manual must be kept up to date and be produced on police request.

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