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Crime fears over late gambling bid

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A BETTING shop has attracted so much crime that police have stood in the way of a bid to extend its opening hours.

Officers have been called to Betfred, in High Street, Croydon, 57 times in the last 18 months due to violent or abusive customers in store.

It has also been revealed that police have had to attend 430 incidents in Betfred bookies across the borough in the past two years.

The figures were made public after the High Street Betfred put in an application to extend its opening hours to 7am to midnight seven days a week, as opposed to closing at 10pm as it does now.

But police stood in the way of the application and told the council's licensing committee that if the opening hours are extended "incidents of crime and disorder will increase".

The list of incidents that have been reported at the shop include armed robbery, theft, and the possession of drugs.

In a report sent to the council, a Croydon licensing officer said: "I am concerned that if the additional hours are granted, that incidents of crime and disorder will increase at this shop, particularly in view of its location next to Croydon's main pubs and nightclubs.

"It can be seen that, in general, quite a number of the reported crimes at this shop have an element of violence or disorder.

"Staff safety is another area which is a concern. I am concerned to know whether the applicant will have a minimum number of staff on the premises during extra hours and how they will be trained.

"I hope that Betfred does not envisage calling the police every time a situation occurs."

The report also states that if the opening hours are extended, other gambling shops in the borough may then apply to extend their hours to keep up with the competition. The report adds: "I am already aware of one similar licensing application that has already been made."

Betfred's application to extend its hours was discussed on Wednesday night at a meeting of the council's licensing sub-committee at the town hall.

The decision comes in the wake of Labour leader Tony Newman telling the Advertiser last month that betting shops were "taking over the high street".

He said: "No one is against people having the odd bet, but when the bookmakers start taking over the high street and there are four in one road it is just ridiculous.

"We must stop them taking over."


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