More police to keep an ey on Camden boozers

POLICE have doubled the number of officers checking up on pubs and clubs in Camden Town, because of the new licensing laws

Marc Mullen

POLICE have doubled the number of officers checking up on pubs and clubs in Camden Town, because of the new licensing laws.

There are now four police officers dedicated to making sure late night boozers close on time and adhere to the terms of their licences.

And the council and police have decided to focus the new officers' efforts on Camden Town itself, which they say is a hotspot.

Head of licensing at the Town Hall, councillor Don Williams, said: "They have increased the number of police dedicated to licensing by two and all of their efforts will be focused on Camden Town.

"We have more licensed premises going on to later hours in Camden than any other borough, and whilst busy areas like Seven Dials and Covent Garden have shown improvement, Camden Town isn't showing any great improvements in terms of anti-social behaviour and crime."

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There are 1,500 licensed premises across Camden which are monitored by council licensing officers and the police.

A total of 930 official complaints about licensed premises were made last year, with the highest concentration being in Camden Town.

To help deal with the problem the council designated a special policy area two years ago.

Pubs and clubs are branded high or low risk and those in the high risk category are visited at least once a week by the teams.

Scott Somerville, manager of the Dublin Castle on Parkway, said: "To tell you the truth, I haven't seen any difference in people's behaviour since the new licensing act. I'm amazed how everyone has taken on the smoking ban. We have pretty good relations with the police. We regularly have officers in to check everything is OK and give us advice and it works well, but Camden Town is Camden Town."

Kasia Radziejewska, 32, assistant manager of the Spread Eagle pub on Parkway, said: "We had one gentleman complain because of a lot of people drinking outside last summer. I think we worked it all out. We put in new barriers and no one drinks outside after 10.30pm.

"Our pub is OK. We are a traditional pub and most of our customers are a bit older."

Last year Camden Council took 17 licensing prosecution cases to court and won all but one of them, with the licensees concerned being fined a total of £29,800.

Cllr Williams said: "Camden Town has the highest number of complaints and as well as officers we use cameras.

"There has been a steady increase in the number of council people dedicated to licensing since the new laws came in two years ago. It is partly down to the new licensing and partly down to the fact that the department was understaffed."

o For more licensing news, see page 32.