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Police called to McDonald's branches in Kent

Police have been called to McDonald's outlets in Kent 4,814 times in just two-and-a-half-years.

Canterbury is the worst offender with the city’s high street restaurant getting more 999 calls than any other branch in the county.

Officers have been alerted to 379 incidents at the St George's Street outlet since the start of 2016 - an average of three per week.

The alarming figures have prompted calls for the fast food chain to be stripped of its licence to open 24 hours a day.

John Ellaby was among those who objected to the controversial decision to grant the all-day hours in 2014, fearing late-night revellers would emerge from bars and clubs and cause a nuisance in the busy restaurant.

He said: "I am concerned that police have to deal with this level of calls when they have other, more important, things to do.

"Police time is very valuable and should not be wasted in this way.

"I don't have a problem with McDonald's being open late, say until 3am, but to be open 24 hours is an issue.

"This sort of thing gives Canterbury a bad name."

Security outside a McDonald's branch in Canterbury
Security outside a McDonald's branch in Canterbury

The branch - which employs security staff at night - has been the scene of many unsavoury incidents, including a trainee beautician breaking a young woman's elbow during a violent bust-up over queue-jumping.

Drunken mum Emily Gibbs, then 23, had been on a night out with friends in 2016 when tempers flared at the restaurant at about 2am.

The incident, which was caught on CCTV, left two sisters injured and Gibbs was jailed for nine months.

The number of police calls to the city centre restaurant amounts to one in 12 of the 4,814 incidents reported across the county between January 2016 and July this year.

Officers were sent to half of the calls.

The McDonald’s with the second highest number of police callouts was its branch in Commercial Road, Strood, which had 368, closely followed by its outlet on Chatham High Street with 336 cases.

Fourth was New Road in Gravesend with 332 callouts, while Maidstone branch in Week Street had 285 crimes.

One of the worst attacks took place in a McDonald's branch in Gravesend
One of the worst attacks took place in a McDonald's branch in Gravesend

Ashford High Street (196), Bridge Road in Sheerness (194), Tonbridge High Street (189) and Margate High Street (166), make up the rest of the top 10.

The fast good giant’s branch in Royal Victoria Place, Tunbridge Wells, had the least callouts with only two.

McDonald's franchisee Paul Crocker - who runs 17 branches in Kent - was contacted by KentOnline but passed us onto the chain's press office.

John Ellaby
John Ellaby

We sent it a number of questions, asking whether the change to 24-hour opening had contributed to the increase in police incidents.

But it responded only with a generic comment, saying: "The safety and security of our people and customers is of the utmost importance to us.

"We therefore take a zero tolerance approach when it comes to crime and antisocial behaviour in and around our restaurants.

"Police time is very valuable and should not be wasted in this way" - John Ellaby

"We work very closely with the local police, community and safer towns partnerships to tackle any ongoing issues.

"Our restaurants are involved in the safer towns partnership, which aims to reduce crime on the high street."

A spokesman for Canterbury City Council said: "McDonald's is a well-run operation which employs fully-accredited security staff and is wholly committed to promoting the council's licensing objectives - the prevention of crime and disorder, promoting the safety of the public and the prevention of public nuisance.

"As a good licensee which takes its responsibility extremely seriously and has a very large volume of people passing through its doors, it is no surprise that McDonald's is often called upon to call the police when its staff deem it appropriate even though some incidents do not directly involve its premises.

"The team at McDonald's often go above and beyond the call of duty and clean up after people who are not its customers.

"Residents can ask for a licence to be reviewed and we would help them with that process.

"For a licence to be revoked it would have to be demonstrated that the way a premises is being run is having an adverse impact on the licensing objectives."

One of Kent’s most violent incidents involved a sustained attack on a teenager in front of horrified onlookers at the New Road branch in Gravesend.

The victim had been chased into the fast food joint by Aiden St Louis and Mohammed Gedi and was repeatedly stabbed with a kitchen knife.

Another attack at the same branch led to a teenager suffering cuts to his face after he was attacked with a glass bottle.

A 20-year-old customer also suffered head and facial injuries after being attacked in Canterbury's Stour Crescent branch.

Meanwhile, a manager was allegedly assaulted in an Ashford branch when someone man jumped over the counter and threw ice over himself from one of the machines.

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