Takeaways in Norwich clubland could be forced to reduce opening hours

A bid to limit takeaway opening hours could curb crime in Norwich's nightclub district police have said after figures revealed one in five offences in the area can be linked to the fast food restaurants.

Norwich City Council will this week consider the first in a series of applications from takeaways in Prince of Wales Road seeking to extend their hours until 5am after police found many were staying open longer than permitted.

But Norfolk police will oppose these applications, claiming that nearly 20pc of crimes on the street between 3am and 6am are linked to takeaways. Their fear is that groups congregate outside restaurants after leaving bars and nightclubs, often creating large disorderly crowds.

Last year police were called to a total of 76 incidents at takeaways in Prince of Wales Road between 9pm and 6am. Police say these crimes were 'almost exclusively violence against the person'. During that time period there were 688 reports of crimes in the street as a whole.

Businesses in Prince of Wales Road have worked hard in recent years to combat the street's reputation for trouble.

Julian Foster, chairman of the Norwich Citizens' Forum, said bars and clubs were often unfairly blamed for contributing to crime and anti-social behaviour.

He said: 'It is too easy to blame pubs and clubs. I get more complaints from residents about anti-social behaviour around takeaways that I do around clubs or bars.

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'People congregate outside late at night when they have had plenty to drink and that can often lead to confrontations.

'One of the problems the police often face is how to get people away from the area quickly and in an orderly manner.'

About 19,000 people are thought to visit Princes of Wales Road and Riverside on Friday and Saturday nights. A number of measures, including the introduction of taxi marshalling schemes, have been introduced to help reduce trouble.

Concerns surrouding takeawyas came to light in a report prepared for City Hall's licensing committee which will meet on Friday to consider an application from Piccolo's takeaway to stay open until 5am.

The report states: 'There will be an increase in incidents of crime and disorder at, and in the vicinity, of the takeaway establishment by allowing an extension of opening hours.

'The location becomes a flashpoint in the early hours of the morning, primarily due to clusters of people fuelled by alcohol around the outlet and those waiting to get a taxi home.

'Our evidence shows that allowing the premises to open later than 3am encourages people to remain at or in the vicinity of the premises. This has resulted in increased conflict between those persons both inside and outside the venue and clearly undermines the licensing objective of preventing crime and disorder.'

The report relates specifically to Piccolo's but licensing officer Michelle Bartram said applications from the ten other takeaways in the street could meet similar opposition.

She said: 'Each case will be considered separately and issues like location and management will be taken into account. However, it is a general issue and we believe limiting opening times could have a significant impact on crime.'

Police were alerted to the problem of takeaways opening beyond their hours last year and action to clamp down on these breaches led to a 66pc reduction in crime.

The report adds: 'This data confirm that the restriction of hours of takeaway establishments encourages the dispersal of people, thus reducing the likelihood of conflict and incidents.'

A statement from Insp Lynn Cross said that when officers were clamping down on opening times: 'There appeared to be fewer groups of intoxicated people lingering in the area which appeared to reduce the likelihood of disturbance normally associated with these refreshment locations and generally the atmosphere was less threatening.'

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- In 2010 Norfolk police received 76 reports of incidents linked to takeaways in Prince of Wales Road between 9pm ant 6am out of a total of 688 reported in the street between the same times.

- Thirty of the complaints related to rowdy or inconsiderate behaviour.

- There were eight reports of people collapsed in he street and seven of violence against the person.

- The crime log also shows a number of reports of theft, criminal damage and suspicious circumstances.

- There were 34 reports of anti-social behaviour linked to takeaways out of 243 in the street as a whole.