Police have been conducting a crack down on Lancaster city centre takeaways in a bid to reduce late night disorder - which has resulted in some having their licenses revoked.
Over the past five months, officers have been carrying out high visibility inspections in the early hours to ensure that fast food outlets are operating within the conditions of their licences. The operation was put in place in order to prevent violent incidents in and around city centre takeaways.
virtual-lancaster has reported on some assaults in Lancaster takeaways, including one in MacDonalds at the beginning of June and another at Ikys in St Leonards Gate in March.
Late night refreshment venues must hold a licence if they are to supply hot food between the hours of 11pm – 5.00 am the following day. Each licence contains its own conditions to enable compliance with the licensing objectives as set down in the Licensing Act 2003. Three of these objectives are the prevention of crime and disorder, the prevention of public nuisance and public safety.
The polices say it is essential that the objectives are complied with to ensure that the premises are not a magnet for crime or anti-social behaviour. As well as the time the outlet is to stop supplying hot food, conditions may also include how many door staff are employed at night and the use of CCTV to ensure the safety of both staff and customers.
Following an initial inspection in February, a number of venues were found to be operating outside their licensed hours to get more custom from revellers leaving nearby bars and nightclubs. Some were also found to be sending door staff home early, or failing to have any at all.
These outlets were then made the subject of a surgery with both police and council licensing officers and were offered help and advice on how to improve the way in which they were operating. However, a second inspection revealed that some takeaways had failed to make any changes.
As a result, Hot Stuff, on Penny Street had its licence revoked in April. The revocation was later withdrawn, but only after a new licensee took over and new licensing conditions were agreed. Star Kebab, also on Penny Street, had its licence suspended for 14 days in April and Ikys, on St Leonards Gate, had its licence suspended for four weeks on 30th June.
“Lancaster is a great place to go for an evening out and the majority of people will enjoy an incident-free night," explains Sergeant James Martin, licensing officer for Lancaster police. "Unfortunately there has been an issue with drunken customers coming into takeaways and starting fights or making a nuisance of themselves.
"The venues have a responsibility to ensure that such incidents are kept to a minimum, or dealt with quickly when they do occur, but due to a lack of door staff or opening later than they should be this has not been happening.
“In one incident door staff were sent home when the official opening hours ended, the venue continued to trade and an off-duty soldier was assaulted quite badly inside the premises.
“By carrying out these inspections to review licences we hope that those takeaways that are not operating within their licences will now address these problems," he added, "so that Lancaster remains a safe place to have a night out.”