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London’s political leaders put event safety in the spotlight following fatal Brixton Academy crowd crush

By | Published on Monday 20 February 2023

Brixton Academy

London’s Night Czar Amy Lamé is reportedly planning a meeting of event management and public safety experts to discuss event safety in the capital following the fatal crowd crush that occurred at the Brixton Academy late last year.

Two people died during the crowd crush at a sold old Asake show at the Academy on 15 Dec. The venue’s licence is currently suspended as police continue with their investigation into what happened on the night.

Reports at the time said that crowd control problems began when some people without tickets tried to force their way into the building.

However, it’s since been alleged that other issues could have contributed to the crowd crush, including some security staff knowingly granting admission to people with fake tickets, colluding with the sellers of those fake tickets in return for payment.

A recent session of the elected London Assembly unanimously passed a motion calling on both Lamé and London mayor Sadiq Khan to instigate various measures to ensure that what happened at the Academy in December cannot happen in the capital ever again.

According to a new report on that session in the Evening Standard, the motion was proposed by Conservative Assembly member Shaun Bailey, who said: “London is a 24 hour city and wants to remain that way. The protection of our venues, and how they’re administered, is very important”.

“Some of you may not know this, but I was a security guard for over ten years, and worked in the most famous venue in probably the whole country – Wembley Stadium and the Arena, and the conference centre as well”, he went on. “I’ve been involved personally in crushes. It is a very scary, very horrible thing to happen”.

“As we know”, he added, “there’s an ongoing police investigation, so we need to be measured in our comments, but the fact that a big part of this investigation is going to look at if security companies, individuals, took bribes or not is very important, because they’re the first and last defence of the people, young and old, in that venue. If they’re not following the rules, the risk to life is extremely high”.

Bailey’s motion called on the mayor to work with the local councils of London on a register of night time venues, which should include information on each venue’s capacity and licensing conditions.

Assembly members also said that Khan should publish a new edition of his night time economy report ‘From Good Night To Great Night’ with additional sections on venue safety, and write to the UK government asking for a general review of how licensing and enforcement by councils is ensuring crowd management and public safety.

Lamé, meanwhile, Bailey’s motion declared, should meet with police, councils and the biggest security firms to discuss the allegations of security staff colluding in the sale of fake tickets.

And she should also meet with the officials and elected councillors who are responsible for event licensing around London to discuss best practices for preventing overcrowding in venues.

Responding to the Assembly’s motion, a spokesperson for Kahn said that the mayor’s “thoughts remain with all those affected by the tragic incident at the Brixton Academy on 15 Dec. Serious allegations have been made and they must be properly investigated”

“The mayor and Night Czar support the agreed ongoing suspension of the venue’s licence while the Met Police investigation continues and are committed to doing all they can to help ensure nothing like this ever happens again”, the spokesperson added.

“That includes continuing to work closely with local authorities, venues, the Security Industry Authority and the police about event safety across the capital”.

The Standard’s report then adds that “Ms Lamé is understood to be planning a workshop in the coming months with key stakeholders from the events and public safety sectors about event safety in the capital”.