'Sales of super strength alcohol' at Ipswich newsagents spark crime fears

Stop press, Upper Brook Street, Ipswich

Stop Press Newsagents and Grocery Store in Upper Brook Street, Ipswich

Fears over anti-social behaviour caused by the sale of super strength alcohol to drunks have prompted police to ask for an Ipswich newsagent's licence to be reviewed.

However, Stop Press Newsagents and Grocery Store claimed police had been "uncooperative" in their dealings with the shop and that staff had tried to follow their guidance.

Suffolk police's licensing team said it had applied for the licence review at the Upper Brook Street store "following recent and ongoing events of sales of alcohol to drunk persons".

Officers also claimed there was "other suspected criminal activity occurring at the premises" and said their attention was first brought to the shop because it was reportedly "regularly selling super strength alcohol to street drinkers".

However, owner Ali Reza Zarei said he believed Stop Press is being unfairly picked on by police when other shops are selling similar products.

Police say the sale of super strength alcohol is "causing serious issues of protracted anti-social behaviour in the area".

However, Mr Zarei said it was unfair to blame the anti-social behaviour problems in the area exclusively on Stop Press.

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The store currently has a licence to sell alcohol between 9am and 10pm Mondays to Saturdays, and between 10am and 8pm on Sundays.

Mr Zarei said he is happy to work with police to resolve the concerns - but said: "I just want them to be fair."

Ahead of a meeting of Ipswich Borough Council's licensing and regulatory sub-committee on Monday, June 14, police listed a series of incidents where they said they removed super strength alcohol from street drinkers.

On one occasion, on September 28 last year, police said they took away cans of super strength alcohol from street drinkers - only to "then see the same street drinkers enter Stop Press, and purchase more super strength alcohol".

They also listed two occasions during 2020 where they say under-18s were sold alcohol and claim Stop Press has not kept to the CCTV requirements of its licence.

"The sales of super strength alcohol is causing a large amount of ASB being felt in the area such as public order, nuisance, drunkenness, begging, violence and breaches of Covid regulations," the police report to the licensing and regulatory sub-committee said.

The report accused "irresponsible management" of "failing to protect the public and local residents from crime and anti-social behaviour" - and said neighbouring businesses "are experiencing a disproportionate and unreasonable amount of anti-social behaviour".

Public Health Suffolk also said it had "serious concerns about the continuation of the alcohol sales element of this license and would therefore support Suffolk police’s request that there is consideration of revoking the premises license".