Calls for urgent action as crime levels soar in Leeds city centre party hotspots

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Police are calling on council bosses to help slash the number of visitors to Leeds city centre amid concerns about rising levels of crime and disorder in areas that are already hotspots for booze-fuelled trouble.

Shocking new figures reveal that public order offences in the centre of the city rose by 103 per cent in one 12 month period.

The year on year rise, covering September to August, also revealed a 41 per cent increase in incidents of affray, a 33 per cent rise in assault incidents and a 64 per cent rise in robberies.

It contributed to a 13 per cent overall increase in crime and disorder in Leeds city centre from 2014/15 to 2015/16.

West Yorkshire Police admits that the Call Lane/Briggate and Woodhouse Lane areas are “problematic”, as they are the source of 50 per cent of all city centre crime and disorder at weekends - 35 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

In a report to be presented to Leeds City Council licensing chiefs tomorrow, police bosses say it is “important that the number of people using this area during the night time does not increase” - and, in fact, “it would be desirable for the number of people to reduce”.

The force is now encouraging the council to slash or restrict extended opening hours, as well as reviewing the numbers of booze-selling outlets in the city’s party heartland.

An action plan is also being put together to reduce the levels of assault and theft.

Urgent meetings are set to be held with Leeds BID and BACIL, a network of hundreds of city centre businesses which actively works to reduce crime.

The report to the licensing panel says: “It is clear from the police evidence that both red areas continue to be problematic with Call Lane/Briggate responsible for 35 per cent of the violent crime and theft, and Albion Street/Woodhouse Lane 15 per cent.

“The night-time economy area around Merrion Street and Cross Belgrave Street, although vibrant and popular, has also seen an increase in crime.

“This shows not only how important it is that the number of people using this area during the night time does not increase but that it would be desirable for the number of people to reduce.

“Therefore any change to the current licences, either new premises or any increase in the operation of the existing premises, should not have the effect of increasing visitors to the area.”

LEEDS CITY CENTRE CRIME RISE: IN NUMBERS

Overall rise in Leeds city centre crime and disorder between Sep-Aug 2014/15 and Sep-Aug 2015/16: 13%

Call Lane/Briggate ‘red flag’ area: 17% - Albion Street/Woodhouse Lane ‘red’ area: 19% - Cross Belgrave Street/Merrion Street: 13%

The peak hours for crime and disorder are between 11pm and 5am Thursday to Saturday.

Assaults continue to be the highest alcohol related crime, followed by drunk and disorderly offences.

Top 10 street names of “increasing concern” to police: Briggate; Call Lane; Albion Street; Woodhouse Lane; Heatons Court; Merrion Street; New Briggate; The Headrow and Assembly Street; Hirst’s Yard