Police have objected to a later licence for a Hove restaurant after finding traces of cocaine in the premises’ toilets.
Sussex Police also said that hundreds of violent crimes within a quarter of a mile of the venue – many of them drink or drug-related – also gave rise to concerns.
The comments were made in a formal objection from Sussex Police after Persia, in Church Road, Hove, applied for a variation of its licence so that it could stay open later.
The owner Emad Abdolkhani, 32, wants the premises to be able to serve late-night refreshments until it closes at – midnight from Sunday to Thursday and on Fridays and Saturdays to trade until 1am the next morning.
He also wants to be allowed to sell alcohol until half an hour before closing.
After his application was received, Sussex Police inspected the premises and found three “high” readings for cocaine in the toilets as well as breaches of the conditions attached to the current licence.
Inspector Michelle Palmer-Harris said that officers carried out the drug swabs as a result of intelligence in the area.
She also said that Central Hove ward was ranked fifth worst out of 21 electoral wards for drink-related crime and disorder in Brighton and Hove.
From August last year to July, officers dealt with 260 violent crimes, 356 incidents of anti-social behaviour and 69 cases of criminal damage within a quarter of a mile of Persia.
Most incidents occurred between 7pm and midnight at weekends, Inspector Palmer-Harris said, and they were likely to involve people drinking and taking drugs.
She said: “Granting this later licence could have a negative impact on emergency service providers.
“It’s for this reason that, even if we take the breaches (of the licence conditions) and drug results out of the picture, Sussex Police still would not be able to support this variation.”
Church Road is in an area that has been designated a “special stress area” by Brighton and Hove City Council because of the high levels or drink and drug-related crime and disorder.
As a result, the council has adopted tougher rules when considering applications for new licences and variations to existing licences.
Inspector Palmer-Harris said that Mr Abdolkhani had not shown any exceptional circumstances that might justify permitting his business to trade later.
The council’s licensing department and two neighbours also objected to the application which is due to be decided by a panel of three councillors next Monday (10 October).
A report to the council licensing panel said that Persia currently operated with a “café licence” which required customers to sit at tables and be served by a waiter.
The premises was also required to offer substantial food at all times. It closes at 11am each night except Sunday when it shuts at 10.30pm. The drinks licence runs until half an hour before closing time.
Mr Abdolkhani said that he wanted to stay open later because many of his customers came in at 7pm and he wanted to be able to fit in a “second sitting”.
He said: “This is a family restaurant, not a bar or night club. My family have been running this sort of business here for a long time.
“My uncles had some of the first businesses like this in Church Road to make it livelier – Orsino and Otello.”
Mr Abdolkhani said that one of the struggles of running a business in Brighton and Hove was the drugs problem.
He said: “I cannot go into the toilets with them (the customers). If we find it, we can deal with it. It was very low – and we regularly check the toilets.”
The licensing panel hearing is due to start at 10am on Monday. It is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.
LIKE WHAT WE DO? HELP US TO DO MORE OF IT BY DONATING HERE.