POLICE in Britain believe triad gangs may be trying to spread their influence beyond their traditional Chinatown areas into city suburbs following a brutal attack on a restaurant in front of diners. Customers at a Chinese restaurant in Belsize Park, north London, watched in terror as three Chinese men swept through the restaurant, The men wrecked a reception area with a cargo hook and a crow bar and sweeping food from tables. The attack last week is said to have been the third in north London in as many weeks, and police believe it may be linked to a crackdown on triad activities in Soho, London's traditional Chinatown. Ironically, they believe the latest attack may be linked to one three hours earlier on a restaurant in Gerrard Street, in Chinatown involving as many as 50 Hong Kong Chinese. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said of the Soho attack: 'Ten Chinese males, part of a larger group of 30-40 gathered outside the restaurant and attempted to gain entry to the premises. 'A number were carrying chains and other weapons but the men who resisted were members of staff who, with some customers, sustained slight injury.' Two men were arrested for weapons and public order offences. The owner of the Belsize Park restaurant said: 'We haven't had any telephone calls and we haven't been asked for money. They do this first to scare you and later on they will come to collect.' One customer in the restaurant said: 'It was a quiet evening and we were waiting for our dessert when we heard what we thought was bottles being smashed. 'These guys with anoraks came in, they started hitting the tables, everyone was just taken aback - the tables were being trashed in front of them. One old woman ended up on the floor. She was in shock and a girl in her late teens was crying and very, very shocked.' Triad activities in Britain have been concentrated in Chinatown areas in London, Manchester and Glasgow and police believe they have them in check. But in recent years there have been fears that the gangs will try and become more effective in the UK with large expatriate Chinese populations ahead of the 1997 handover.