Brixton O2 Academy has licence suspended following crush

Featured image credit: Dr Neil Clifton/ CC BY-SA 2.0/ Edited for size

The Brixton O2 Academy has had its licence suspended after the Metropolitan Police applied for a summary review, following the death of two people.

The two people died after a crowd crush at a concert from Afro-pop singer Asake on December 15. Rebecca Ikumelo died in hospital and Gaby Hutchinson also passed away following the incident. A third person is still in critical condition.

Lambeth councillors met today (Thursday) to decide on the matter, ahead of a full review next month. The venue’s licence has been suspended until January 16.

The police were hoping that Lambeth Council’s licensing sub-committee would suspend the licence throughout the force’s investigation. The Met also said that there had been a similar crush incident in 2020, when there were concerns about the strength of the venue’s front doors.

Owners instead offered to stay closed for 28 days and one show has already been postponed, with another New Year’s Eve event also cancelled.

As reported by the BBC, lawyer Gerald Gourier, who was representing the police, said: “It is not right, I suggest, to leave a decision as serious as this one in the hands of the licencee. Whilst what happened last Thursday of course was exceptional, no one should begin to think that it was unique or could not happen again.”

Stephen Walsh KC, who was representing Academy Music Group, said: “It is clearly far too early, as the police have accepted, to draw any conclusions about the causes of the tragedy, let alone to point the finger of blame at any party or parties.

“The O2 Academy Brixton recognises the gravity of the events which occurred on the night of December 15, and expresses its sincere condolences to the families of those who died during the tragic incident, and its genuine concerns for anyone affected by it.

“The licence holder, Academy Music Group Limited, is committed to ensuring that vital lessons are learned through its own detailed internal investigation.”

A summary review is a fast-track review process brought by police when they believe that a premises is involved in a serious crime, serious disorder or both. This allows the licensing authority to take steps before a full review.

These steps can include the modification of the conditions of the premises licence; the removal of the designated premises supervisor from the licence; the suspension of the licence for a period of no longer than three months and the renovation of the licence.