Chicken Cottage on City Road. Image: Google

A “substantial peak” of violent crime in Shoreditch since the easing of Covid restrictions in July has given police a headache.

Officers from the local force’s licensing team told a Hackney sub-committee that they were concerned about more venues being open into the early hours of the morning.

Ahmed Zia who runs Chicken Cottage was applying to extend the hours of the City Road fast food restaurant until 5am on Thursdays to Saturdays and until 1am on Mondays to Wednesdays.

He said he needed the extra time to help pay the rent and recover from the pandemic, which he said has hit his business hard.

The restaurant, which is currently open until midnight daily, falls inside the Shoreditch special policy area, which has many venues.

The police representative told the committee that officers were called out after reports of a fight inside the shop around 2.30am on 18 April.

Police sent the venue a warning letter and said: “It transpired that the premises should actually have closed at midnight and were trading way outside of the hours authorised by the current premises licence.”

The officer said since then the venue has been shutting at the correct time, but that police are concerned about later opening times.

They added: “The hours proposed in this licence are extremely late and effectively allow the premises to trade for 24 hours from the opening of the premises on Thursday until the close of the premises on Sunday morning, which encourages those people who have consumed large amounts of alcohol in Shoreditch to loiter in the street.”

The police’s report stated: “The behaviour of people who have consumed various amounts of alcohol changes and they very often become more aggressive, confrontational and incidents of violence and disorder occur.”

The representative told the hearing: “As a result of increased levels of crime, we are trying to keep a lid on Shoreditch.”

Business co-owner Rafiullah Sarwar said staff start cleaning the equipment  after midnight when they shut and it takes several hours to get everything clean.

He said: “You have to open the door to get some fresh air, there’s a grill, there’s a fryer and there’s a machine at 380 degrees.”

He explained on the night of the incident in April that people wanted to get some chicken after hours: “I would not sell it, those people who came were very violent, our shutter wasn’t working.

“When these people come in with a situation you have to be very soft and nice.”

He said he gave them free food to get them to go away. Zia added that the people even argued with the police.

He said they have put in cameras and panic alarms to help prevent problems.

“We will make sure people will leave quietly,” he said.

The licensing sub-committee (10 August) will publish a decision in five working days.

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