The Metropolitan Police has called for the operator of O2 Academy in Brixton to be removed at a hearing over the London venue’s future.
The two-day licensing hearing was held in Lambeth at the start of this week some 10 months after a crush led to two deaths. The venue has been closed ever since the incident at an Asake concert, with its licence having been suspended.
Following the conclusion of the public hearing on Tuesday, Lambeth Council said a decision on the future of the venue will be made “within five working days”.
In evidence on behalf of the Met, barrister Gerald Gouriet said the force is not trying to shut down the venue. However, as reported by the NME, he added that the Met believes Academy Music Group (AMG) should not be the licensee.
“The police have brought a review of the licence because they think that the Academy Music Group shouldn’t be the licensee,” Gouriet said. “I am not permitted to go further into the reasons of why the police say so, but I do wish that no-one carries the idea from this room that the police are trying to shut down the Academy. They simply aren’t.”
Complete overhaul of security procedures
Lambeth Council told the hearing that it supports the reopening of the venue and noted that AMG has performed a “complete overhaul” of its security procedures and attitude towards risk assessments since the incident in December 2022.
Lambeth Council barrister Horatio Waller said the changes have been “independently audited” by consultants and commended as “comprehensive and robust”. Waller added that the results of these findings have given police “confidence to work with AMG to help develop their proposals further.”
The council “supports, in principle, the re-opening of the venue” based upon new conditions, Waller said. These conditions include a “new, revised system for ingress [entry] into the venue” and the introduction of new barriers “positioned on the highway,” for which a temporary traffic regulation order would be required.
Barrister Philip Kolvin, representing AMG, told the hearing that there were plans in place to have meetings “at least monthly” with police, as well as going into detail about their processes of risk assessment which “make no reference to genres”.
Kolvin said 13 different risk categories have been identified. However, with concerns having been aired about the notion there is a raised threat at concerts where the majority of attendees are black, Kolvin said none of the risk categories are linked to race.
“They’re all specific events: overcrowding, crushing, collapse of balcony, burn injuries etc,” he said. “The risks are disaggregated, and they have nothing to do with racial typing.”
O2 Academy had its licence initially suspended for three months, before it was extended further while investigations continued. London’s Metropolitan Police then called for the venue to have its licence revoked.
Earlier this year, The Prodigy and Muse were among thousands who joined a campaign to save O2 Academy Brixton from closure.