Late-night hangout The Dolphin faces an uncertain future after the police applied for a review of its licence.
Nearly 2,000 fans of the Mare Street fixture have signed a petition in support of the pub in just over a week, after police took action following a sharp increase in the number of thefts reported at the venue.
The police application states that they are not seeking to have the licence revoked, but the venue’s management are concerned that even a change in licence conditions could threaten the viability of the pub.
The pub’s manager, Kay Underdown, said that any tightening of The Dolphin’s licensed hours would be “disastrous” for them.
“If it’s the late licence they take, that is pretty much the end of The Dolphin,” she said. “I think a lot of people would still come to the pub, but also it’s whether we can physically keep the pub going.”
The size of the venue meant the late licence was central to the pub making any money, she added.
Police figures cited in the application show that 92 crimes were reported at the pub in the last year, more than double the number in the previous 12 months, with the majority of incidents relating to theft.
Ms Underdown said that they recognised that there had been an increase in reported thefts in recent years, and said that the problem had grown as more people started carrying iPhones and other expensive equipment around with them, while not paying sufficient attention to it.
“People aren’t looking at what’s happening with their belongings; they’re not taking care of them. I spend a lot of time reuniting people with their items on both my Saturdays and Sundays, trying to contact people. Unfortunately, things like that don’t get added into the statistics and they don’t get reported”, Ms Underdown said.
The pub’s staff are also concerned that, in some cases, people may be reporting lost or broken items as stolen in order to be able to claim for them on insurance.
Ian Simpkins, a licensing inspector with the police licensing unit in Hackney said: “Hackney Licensing Unit has launched a review of The Dolphin pub for persistent high crime and failing to act or engage with us to resolve the problem.”
The review comes just months after Efes Snooker Club on Stoke Newington Road had its licence revoked following an application from the police. The bar has been able to stay open while it appeals the decision, with a hearing expected later in the year.
Asked whether the move was part of a broader campaign to tackle pubs and clubs in the borough, Mr Simpkins said: “There is no ‘campaign’ over and above our duty to reduce crime across the borough. But in pursuit of that, the Licensing Unit has taken action against those venues that undermine the licensing objectives. And it will continue to do so.”
Management of The Dolphin are to meet with local authorities next Tuesday.
Residents have until 31 July 2013 to submit representations to Hackney Council on the review, with a hearing expected before the end of August./ 19 July, 2013