Supermarket giant Sainsbury's has shelved plans to sell alcohol 24 hours a day in two of its Oxford stores amid police fears it would lead to increased crime and disorder.

Sainsbury's Westgate store

The firm applied to Oxford City Council for all-day opening hours at its Westgate Centre store and Sainsbury's Local branch, in London Road, Headington.

Both bids were blocked by police, who demanded security guards to man the entrance of the supermarkets to ensure the safety of shoppers and prevent drinking on the shop's doorsteps.

The Westgate Centre store, situated in an alcohol-free zone, was finally granted a licence to sell alcohol between 7am and 11pm by Oxford City Council at a licensing hearing yesterday, after supermarket bosses agreed to abandon their 24-hour bid.

Thames Valley Police licensing officer Insp Oliver Wright said: "From a police assessment, if a 24-hour licence was going to be agreed, we requested they had uniformed security guards between midnight and six o'clock in the morning.

"As a result Sainsbury's changed the hours they wanted."

Sainsbury's withdrew a similar bid last month for a 24-hour licence at its Sainsbury's Local store in London Road, Headington, after police raised similar concerns. It can only sell alcohol between 7am and 11pm.

Oxford City Council granted a reduced licence on the condition the Westgate Centre store displays signs at every exit warning shoppers they are in an alcohol-free zone, which allows police to stop people drinking in public.

A police spokesman added: "Providing a uniformed security guard and displaying posters that show the area is within the council's alcohol-free zones is to prevent crime and disorder."

Sainsbury's is the only company in Oxford to apply for a round-the-clock alcohol licence.

No other pub, club or supermarket is currently bidding for a 24-hour drinking licece, apart from Tesco supermarket in Cowley Retail Park, which needs a new licence to provide hot food and drink but not alcohol.

A spokesman for Sainsbury's said: "We applied for 24 hour licences only because it reduces the bureaucracy in the future, so therefore we're not too disappointed.

"We never had any intention to open 24 hours all the time. It would have given us the opportunity to extend opening hours, for instance in the lead up to Christmas."

Residents, the police and councillors have all sought to block late licences because of fears about anti-social behaviour.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has written to Oxford City Council opposing an application by the Golden Ball, Littlemore, to serve drinks until 2.30am.

He was acting in support of nuns who fear that drinkers will ruin the solace of the John Henry Newman Catholic college across the road from the pub.

Residents have also opposed an application by The Hollybush in Bridge Street, Osney, Oxford, to serve food until 2am and alcohol up to 2.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Oxford city council has refused an application from Clementines nightclub in St Clement's.