Agenda item

Application by Brent Police to review the premises licence for 'Boozewell' (383 Church Lane, Kingsbury, London, NW9 8JB) pursuant to the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003

Decision:

That the application by Brent Metropolitan Police to Review the Premises Licence for ‘Boozewell’ (383 Church Lane, Kingsbury, London NW9 8JB) (“the premises”) pursuant to the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 be agreed to continue in force subject to amendments to the premises licence and conditions as follows:-

 

1)        Mr Punit Shah, being the son of Mr Mahesh Hamraj Shah the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) be specifically excluded from the premises area.

 

2)        A Personal Licence Holder (PLH) fluent in English language shall be present at the premises and supervise the sale of alcohol throughout the licensable hours of the premises for the sale of alcohol.

 

3)        CCTV shall be installed to Home Office Guidance standards and maintained in a good working condition and recordings shall be kept for 31 days and shall be made available to Police and Licensing Officers if requested.

 

4)        For the avoidance of doubt, the CCTV cameras shall be positioned in the following areas;

 

·         Entrance area

·         Till area

·         Entrance to store room.

 

Minutes:

Relevant authority making a representation

 

PC Nicola McDonald (Licensing Officer, Brent Police)

Nick Mortimer (Brent Police)

 

Premises licence holder

 

Mark Agombar (premises licence holder’s legal representative)

Mahesh Hamraj Shah (premises licence holder and designated premises supervisor)

 

Alan Howarth (Licensing Manager, Health Safety and Licensing) introduced the matter and advised that the police had applied for a review of the premises licence on the grounds of prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, prevention of public nuisance and protection of children from harm.  He drew members’ attention to the evidence submitted by the Police in support of the review as set out in the report before the Sub-Committee which included the following; the use of the licensed premises for criminal activity, namely the storage and sales of illegal drugs; poor management and unsatisfactory supervision which had impacted on the licensing objectives.

 

Relevant authority making a representation

 

PC Nicola McDonald (Licensing Officer, Brent Police) informed the Sub-Committee that the licensed premises had been used for criminal activity namely to store and sell illegal drugs, cannabis resin.  She continued that on 16 June 2010 Brent Police Officers executed a search warrant issued under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 at the licensed premises and the residential flat above the shop. Mr Punit Shah, being the son of the DPS was detained behind the counter working in the shop and when searched, officers found £150 cash in his trouser pocket and a large quantity of herbal cannabis resin in foil wraps in the rear store room of the licensed premises.  Officers also searched Punit’s bedroom and found three large bags of herbal cannabis, more small wraps of cannabis resin and £15,795 cash.  Punit Shah was bailed to appear at Wembley Police Station on 17 November 2010.  PC McDonald emphasised that Mr Shah the DPS was present at the premises during the execution of the search warrant and was aware of the drugs seized.

 

PC McDonald informed members that on 12 November 2010, 5 days prior to his bail return, further evidence received by Brent Police executed a second warrant which resulted in a sum of £400 found in his trouser pocket, a large block of cannabis resin, thirty wraps of cannabis resin and £3,000 cash.  Again Mr Shah the DPS was present at the licensed premises during the execution of the warrant. 

 

The Sub-Committee was also informed that on 28 January 2011 Brent Police executed a third warrant at the licensed premises during which Punit and his brother Rishi were working in the shop.  It was reported that officers found several clear plastic bags of cannabis resin in a disused refrigerator on the premises and more cannabis in the shower room adjoining Punit and Rishi’s bedroom.

 

PC McDonald continued that Mr Shah (DPS) had never contacted Brent Police to discuss any issues and pressures from his son Punit and in fact continued to allow Punit to work in the shop with little or no supervision knowing the seriousness of the allegations.  PC McDonald submitted that in her opinion, a revocation of the premises license was the appropriate course of action to take given the circumstances so as to uphold the licensing objectives.

 

Nick Mortimer added that the licensed premises was used for illegal activities hence the recommendation to the Sub-Committee to revoke the premises licence in order to uphold the licensing objectives.  He continued that all three warrants executed resulted in substantial amounts of cash and cannabis being found at the premises when the PLH was supposed to be in control but clearly failed to exercise it.  In endorsing the views expressed by PC McDonald, Nick Mortimer added that any support required by the PLH should have come from his legal representatives and not Brent Police.

 

 

Case for the premises licence holder

 

Mark Agombar, legal representative for the premises license holder (PLH) submitted that the application for review of the premises licence was based on the activities of the son Punit and that Mr Shah the PLH had no knowledge of his son’s activities prior to the execution of the first warrant on 16 June 2010.  He added that the claim by the police that the licensing objectives had been breached relied on what they referred to as ‘intelligence reports’ but had failed to put forward evidence to clarify the source and validity of those reports.  He continued that the case against Punit Shah was a presumption but not yet proven and that Mr Shah’s presence was no coincidence as he lived on the premises at the first floor flat.

 

Mr Agombar informed the Sub-Committee that Mr Shah had successfully run the family business for over 25 years in the face of competition from large supermarkets.  In his view Mr Shah was an iconic British businessman who was wholly horrified by the activities of his sons and continued to struggle to accept the hideous acts by his sons.  In advance of the court hearing and in order to preserve his licence, Mr Shah had taken a decisive action to evict his own son from the family home and banned him from the licensed premises.  Mark Agombar submitted that a revocation of the premises licence would be disproportionate and destroy the family.  He urged members to impose conditions including the exclusion of Punit from participating in the business.

 

Questioning by Members

 

Councillor Mrs Bacchus sought confirmation on how many times that cannabis had been found at the licensed premises and whether Mr Shah was aware of illegal drugs activities at the premises.  Councillor Beckman enquired as to the residential address of Punit since he was evicted by his father.  In response, Mark Agombar stated that cannabis was found on three occasions and although Mr Shah was present, he could not smell its presence at the licensed premises as he had no experience in illegal drugs.  He added that Punit was currently living about 45 minutes drive away from Church Lane although he had not told his father about the exact address. 

 

Decision

 

At this point, the premises licence holder, his representatives and the responsible authority were asked to leave the room to allow the Sub-Committee to discuss the relevant issues in closed session.

 

Having considered the application by the Metropolitan Police to Review the Premises Licence for ‘Boozewell’ (383 Church Lane, Kingsbury, London NW9 8JB) (“the premises”) pursuant to the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 the Sub-Committee resolved that the licence be agreed to continue in force subject to amendments to the premises licence and conditions as follows:-

 

1)        Mr Punit Shah, being the son of Mr Mahesh Hamraj Shah the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) be specifically excluded from the premises.

 

2)        A Personal Licence Holder (PLH) fluent in English language shall be present at the premises and supervise the sale of alcohol throughout the licensable hours.

 

3)        CCTV shall be installed to Home Office Guidance standards and maintained in a good working condition and recordings shall be kept for 31 days and shall be made available to Police and Licensing Officers if requested.

 

4)        The CCTV cameras shall be positioned to cover the following areas;

 

·         Shop entrance area

·         Till area

·         Entrance to store room.