THE credit crunch is blamed for increasing numbers of people causing problems by drinking alcohol on the streets of Barnet, say police.

According to a report submitted to a Barnet Council licensing committee by Sergeant Mark Altman, the problems of street-drinking has “seemingly been exacerbated by the credit crunch”.

Sergeant Altman wrote that it was a particular problem in the Golders Green and Childs Hill wards.

He told the committee: “Several wards across the borough have seen an increase in street-drinking and alcohol-related disorder that is directly linked to the consumption of alcohol in public places.

“Significant numbers of street drinkers from mainly eastern European countries are causing concern to both the police and agencies involved with treating alcoholism."

The committee will convene tonight to consider an application from the owner of a Golders Green off-licence who wants to be able to sell alcohol 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The current licence allows alcohol to be sold from Buy to Save, in Golders Green Road, until midnight.

Sergeant Altman wrote to the committee that officers from the Golders Green safer neighbourhood team and the council had worked hard to engage with alcoholics, particularly those who had been committing crime in the area, and their victims.

He wrote: “If this licence was extended to cover 24 hours a day, it is more than likely that a significant increase in alcohol-related crime and disorder would occur.

“In turn, this would undo the good work that the police and local authority have achieved in this area.”