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Anti-social behaviour forces weekend closures at cafe

By Tom Connell

A lack of police action over anti-social behaviour led to The Real Junk Food Company’s flagship Armley café closing its doors at weekends according to the café’s director.

Chris Green Armley Junk-tion’s director, believes that if the café had remained open it was just a matter of time before a member of their team was hurt.

But police say they have been working hard to combat the problems at the cafe and believed that the situation had been getting better.

Chris Green said: “On Saturdays and Sundays it’s pretty grim, I think it gets worse at this time of year too. Around Christmas people seem to get more desperate.

“It’s not something that we never wanted to do but eventually something bad was going to happen.

“Some people come here and don’t treat us like a café they come in drunk and are abusive towards our team members and volunteers. We have had meetings with the council and police they’ve said that they would help but it’s just been a token gesture”

However, Sergeant Chris Craven, of the Leeds Inner West Neighbourhood Policing Team told a different story.

He said: “We met with the owner and agreed the actions we were putting in place, including work by relevant support services. Officers including myself have been regularly calling at the cafe and speaking to the wider community in that area and have been given the impression that the situation has significantly improved.

“We always take reports of crime and anti-social behaviour seriously and will continue to work with the cafe owner and our partner agencies to ensure that any issues that do occur are suitably addressed.”

Mr Green suggested that the olice hadn’t done enough to help. He claimed they only visited once for around 10 minutes.

One customer who asked not to be named explained the café had tried everything they could before announcing their weekend closure on social media last week.

She said: “They try their best to stop drugs getting in but they can’t. It’s great free food so it’s a shame they’ve had to close.”

The café is the first of its kind, providing a ‘Pay as You Feel’ service for their customers. The idea is to intercept food otherwise destined for landfill and provide meals allowing people to simply pay what they can afford.

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