POLICE chiefs have hit out at plans by McDonald’s to run three of its busiest city restaurants 24 hours a day.
The fast-food giant has applied for a licence to allow its branches in Princes Street, South St Andrew Street and at Fort Kinnaird to remain open around the clock.
But police said they cannot support the application as it could set a precedent for other premises staying open all night.
They also reported a catalogue of incidents, including violence and racist abuse within and in the immediate vicinity of the city centre branches.
Councillors will make a decision later this week.
Currently the branches open until 2am Monday to Thursday and 3am at the weekends, closing for a short period before reopening again at 5am.
In a report to the licensing committee, police say they were called to the South St Andrew Street branch 82 times between October 2010 and October 2011 and to the Princes Street premises 35 times since summer 2010.
The Princes Street branch was granted a temporary late licence for the Festival in August but only on the condition that stewards were brought in to oversee security.
Incidents there had included physical assaults, racist abuse, drug taking, staff being spat on, customers refusing to leave and drunks having a food fight.
Several incidents at the South St Andrew Street branch involved attacking or harassing door stewards and abusing staff. However, the branches are said to have improved due to new management.
City centre councillor Joanna Mowat, a member of the licensing sub-committee, said: “I can’t say too much since we’ll be taking a decision on Friday but we have allowed temporary extensions previously and we will have to go through that process again.
“I was out with the police on a night-time patrol a few weekends ago and these premises are popular places with young people after the discos come out.
“It’s not surprising there have been incidents, but we do know the new management has greatly improved recently.”
McDonald’s spokeswoman Emma Maltby said: “We trialled opening 24/7 at our Princes Street restaurant during the Edinburgh Festival this summer, which proved popular.
“We are, of course, concerned by any incidents of antisocial behaviour and we will continue to work with the police.
“Our main priority is to be a good neighbour.”