News War on London’s late night venues or demand for higher standards

Issues faced by Fabric point to a wider problem of how we protect London's night-time economy

I’m sure no-one has missed the revocation of the famous Farringdon nightclub Fabric’s premises licence on 6th September.

We have seen an increase in club closures of late with London losing a significant number of nightclubs and live music venues and concern has been raised that recent events herald a sea change in enforcement action led by local licensing authorities and Police. 

The closure of the iconic venue has caused controversy amongst many club goers and industry celebrities alike, and prior to the hearing a petition to save the club had received almost 150,000 signatures.   Fabric’s hearing was particularly interesting due to the large number in attendance and the live commentary provided through Facebook and twitter feeds.

The Club was initially closed following the deaths of two 18-year -olds in June and August, this year, which have been identified as drug-related.  This follows a previous review of the premises in 2014 initiated in response to other deaths at the premises.

Islington Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee determined that the crime prevention objective was being undermined as: drugs were taken on to the premises without detection;  the extent of drug use was such that security and staff members should have been able to observe their use and effect on a large number of patrons; and staff intervention and security was grossly inadequate.

Other recent closures have been due to many factors, some not dissimilar to those suffered at Fabric.  Premises may be subject to the imposition of strict and often more costly conditions, such as the requirement for increased security staff.  Other potential local pressures are the increasing costs of property and rents in the Capital.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has stated that “London’s iconic clubs are an essential part of our cultural landscape” and that he felt disappointment that the authorities and Fabric were “unable to reach an agreement on how to address concerns about public safety”.  Mr Khan also identifies that the “issues faced by Fabric point to a wider problem of how we protect London’s night-time economy, while ensuring it is safe and enjoyable for everyone”.  

Under current legislation including the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the recent implementation of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, there are strict controls and offences relating to the use and supply of controlled drugs and ‘psychoactive substances’.  In consideration of the perceived heightened enforcement response seen from local authorities, premises should work with their local authorities and neighbouring premises to develop a consistent approach to zero tolerance.