Tower Hamlets Borough Commander Dave Stringer on a Saturation Zone for the Brick Lane Area

PUBLISHED: 13:11 06 March 2013 | UPDATED: 13:11 06 March 2013

Met Pol

Dave Stringer, Borough Commander Tower Hamlets

Over the last decade, Brick Lane has developed into one of London’s major night time economies. It has the highest concentration of licensed premises in Tower Hamlets, with more than two hundred.

Over the past six or so months, many local residents and business owners have expressed to me their view that Brick Lane has too many Licensed Premises. Have we reached Saturation point? Saturation, what does that mean? Quite simply put, full up to the point that nothing more can be added. Can Brick Lane support many more Licensed Premises?

Whilst it is important to support and encourage a vibrant economy in Tower Hamlets, the balance has to be struck between an uncontrolled expansion of Licensed Premises with the undoubted problems that may bring, with the pressing need to ensure public safety and confidence. Any area that has such a high concentration of restaurants, late night take-away shops, off- licences and bars has the potential to lead to public disorder and anti social behaviour. It is no secret that the crime rate for the Brick Lane area is higher than other areas of the Borough. We need to redress this imbalance, put the brakes on and take back control of this expansion.

We cannot as a police service do this alone, a partnership based approach to this issue is vital. In my role as Borough Commander of Tower Hamlets Police, I have been in consultation with Tower Hamlets Council and our relevant wider partnerships. We have concluded after much discussion, that the establishment of a Saturation Zone Policy for the Brick Lane Area would allow us to control the growth of future licensed premises in the area.

This would be an important step in tackling some of the anti social behaviour issues that can arise from licensed premises. I have said many times that the quality of life for the people that live, work and visit the area should be one of enjoyment and pleasure and not one of continued disruption and disorder

A Saturation Zone Policy is an effective way to manage applications for Licences in areas that demonstrate that they are already at saturation point.

Let us be clear, the proposed Saturation Zone Policy would not directly affect the current alcohol or late night refreshment in Brick Lane, but it would play a very significant role in any future applications. It does not mean that future licences would not be granted or that quotas would be introduced.

We live in interesting and challenging times, and will be policing with potentially fewer resources than before but still striving to maintain a high standard. I believe a Saturation Zone Policy is a much needed first step on the road to taking back control and ensuring crime is reduced by a significant level in the Brick Lane area, therefore allowing us to focus our resources on other areas of the Borough.

Read the full saturation zone policy proposal for the Brick Lane area and register your view, visit

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