'The village will be like Vegas': Alcohol fears around Hampstead Heath

Alcohol on Hampstead Heath

Residents are worried alcohol around the Heath is increasing antisocial behaviour - Credit: Archant

The availability of alcohol around the Heath was discussed at a meeting of the Hampstead Safer Neighbourhood Panel last Tuesday (August 10).  

The group convened for the first time since the start of the pandemic, including chair Susan West and new Hampstead and Highgate police sergeant Nicky O’Hara.  

The discussion about drinking around the Heath followed the decision by newsagent Heath News to appeal the rejection of its application for an alcohol licence.

One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the “village is going to become like Vegas”, as they cited the rising number of businesses, especially in South End Green, with licences to sell alcohol.

Another resident warned of the potential of local businesses in enabling alcoholism, given the proximity of the Royal Free Hospital. They said: “It’s a social issue really. We’ve all seen patients leaving hospital to go to the off licence and going straight back.”

Hampstead and Highgate sergeant Nicky O'Hara

Hampstead and Highgate sergeant Nicky O'Hara - Credit: Sgt Nicky O'Hara

Ms West, who will be opposing the Heath News appeal, echoed this sentiment, saying outlets try to alleviate concerns by claiming that “their clientele will be fifty-year-old ladies drinking white wine”. 

Sgt O’Hara cited the small size of the Hampstead Town Safer Neighbourhoods team and the chronic underreporting of antisocial behaviour as difficulties in tackling the problem. 

The issue of encouraging licensing compliance was added to the list of “Ward Promises”, which also includes tackling retail crime, theft from motor vehicles, and begging.  

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On the illegal use of electric scooters, Sgt O’Hara said the police’s priority is to “educate people” about relatively new legislation.

She said people involved in begging would be met with “any support that they might need”, being referred to the Camden Routes off The Streets team. 

Sgt O'Hara encouraged residents to stay in touch via Twitter and NextDoor, and report crime, when it is safe to do so, via 101 or online.