“Sex harassment” cafe shut by police

A cafe which police say was a den for stolen goods and where patrons sexually harassed passers-by has been shut.

Six officers swooped on Caffeteria De Hoggar in Blackstock Road, Finsbury Park, last week.

Police say the cafe, which has been shut for three months under antisocial behaviour laws, attracted men who loitered outside and sexually harassed women walking past – including students at City and Islington College, also in Blackstock Road.

Raids there this summer brought arrests for handling stolen goods – with one man jailed after he was caught with two laptops stolen earlier the same day.

Pc Martin Evans, of the Highbury West Safer Neighbourhoods team, said: "It’s a den for handling stolen goods, and men regularly go in and out to buy illegal cigarettes, which have not been taxed.

"Large groups of men also hang around outside the cafe sexually harassing females. The head of City and Islington College has come to us to say lots of students and members of staff are suffering abuse, and asked us to do something. It’s a blight on the landscape and we want to clean the area up."

The Gazette highlighted ongoing problems surrounding sexual harassment in the road in July.

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Meanwhile, in the same month a man was arrested at De Hoggar on suspicion of handling stolen goods, namely mobile phones.

Another man, Chawki Oulmane, 31, of William Bullworth Court, Stamford Hill, was jailed for 16 months for handling stolen goods at Blackfriars Crown Court on September 23. He was found with two laptops at the cafe on August 14. Oulmane has been banned from Blackstock Road for 10 years.

No stolen property was found when officers scoured the premises last week, but they did uncover 13 boxes of foreign cigarettes stashed in the money tray of a till, and several more stuffed behind a flatscreen television mounted on a wall.

Pc Evans insisted: "We didn’t expect to find anything – they are not keeping stolen property in here permanently because they know we are gunning for them."

The closure was confirmed at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday, where it was not contested by the owner.

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