Double trouble: Police want to slash 2-for-1 booze offers to help cut Leeds city centre crime

Police on patrol in Albion Street, Leeds. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Police on patrol in Albion Street, Leeds. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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Businesses can help police reduce Leeds city centre crime - by cutting down on the alcohol cheap deals which are fuelling anti social behaviour and disorder.

That’s the message from police after the latest application for extended alcohol sale hours in a city centre trouble hotspot was rejected by a decision making panel.

Turtle Bay in Leeds

Turtle Bay in Leeds

Bar and restaurant Turtle Bay had applied for longer hours beyond its current midnight cutoff, stressing that the extended hours would only be to allow customers already on the premises to buy more drinks. No new customers would be admitted after 12am, it was claimed.

However the company failed to convince a Leeds City Council licensing panel, and the application was rejected.

A meeting at Leeds Civic Hall yesterday heard from PC Cath Arkle, a licensing officer from West Yorkshire Police, which had made an outright objection to the proposals.

She told the panel that the force’s recommendations are based on “cumulative impact” of all businesses selling alcohol in the city’s two “red zones” for trouble. Turtle Bay sits within one of those zones, the Albion Street area.

She said the city’s current Cumulative Impact Policy “creates a presumption” that all applications will be refused unless they can convince the licensing committee that they won’t “undermine” efforts to cut down trouble.

She explained that while the force welcomes applications in other areas of the city designated “green” zones, that end of the city centre is “saturated” and “very much a trouble area”.

As previously reported in the YEP, alcohol related violent crime in Leeds city centre’s hotspot areas has risen by 39 per cent in the past year.

Though the impact of this particular venue was “not substantial”, PC Arkle told yesterday’s meeting, it has had some impact.

And addressing the proliferation of happy hour and 2 for 1 deals which run through the night and into the early hours at some venues, PC Arkle said: “The 2 for 1 cocktail offer is something that West Yorkshire Police have a concern about.

“This pushing and doubling of sale of alcohol is detrimental to the whole operation.

“The cumulative impact of all the venues in the area has led to an increase in alcohol-related violent crime, and we are now having to deal with that.

“It is undermining the licensing objective - and public safety as well.”

Anthony Lyons, a lawyer representing Turtle Bay, told the licensing panel that there would be no entry after midnight, and the firm simply wanted to retain existing customers for the extra period of time.

He added there was evidence that the company’s clientele don’t cause crime and anti social behaviour, and little evidence to the contrary,

“We know we are in the red zone, but nearby to us are premises that trade to 5am in the morning, that are totally party and alcohol driven.”

He suggested it was unfair that businesses like Turtle Bay were being evaluated under the same criteria as the kinds of venues where you see “bottles being dispensed into mouths”.