A 14-year-old boy accused of raping a woman in the toilets of a Manchester nightclub was likely known to bouncers at the Gay Village venue, councillors have concluded.
CCTV footage from the venue in Bloom Street suggests that the boy, who was arrested but released on bail, was familiar with the club, councillors concluded.
Bloom has been closed since the incident in the early hours of Wednesday 29 June, and has since had its licence temporarily suspended.
Manchester council’s licensing panel ruled that the club must remain closed until a full review of the premises licence, scheduled for 25 July, is complete.
It comes after the police presented CCTV footage at a public hearing on Wednesday (13 July) which showed the boy at the premises on the night.
‘Drugs offered’ meeting hears
In the footage, the 14-year-old boy is seen talking to door staff with a ‘level of familiarity’ and seems to know the layout of the venue, the panel concluded.
He ‘felt comfortable’ approaching a table of women and offering them drugs, saying they believed he had been to the venue before, the committee decided.
Legal representatives made the case for the nightclub to be allowed to reopen.
Since the incident, the designated premises holder at the club has been removed and a new ‘professional’ security company has been sourced.
But the panel said the problems identified on the door that night, including the ID scanner not being used properly, were not an ‘isolated incident’ and argued that these failings should have been noticed and addressed by management.
A summary of the decision by the licensing sub-committee hearing panel says: “Having viewed the CCTV the committee consider that the problems seen on the door on the night in question were not an isolated incident.
“The interaction between the 14-year-old male and door staff show a level of familiarity and the committee did not accept that this was the first time he had attended the premises.
“He appeared familiar with the layout of the premises and the door staff and although only 14 years of age felt comfortable approaching a table of females in order to offer them drugs.
“It was clear from the CCTV footage that Clubscan was not being properly used.
“The committee was not clear what management plan was going to be implemented to better monitor the premises.
“The committee consider it is the responsibility of management to ensure the premises is operating responsibly.
“The failings of the door company should have been noticed and addressed.
“The committee needs to have more confidence that management will have a more robust plan to ensure the Licensing Objectives are not being undermined particularly the prevention of crime and disorder and to ensure the safeguarding of vulnerable females and vulnerable children who should not be at the premises.
“The committee therefore considered it necessary and proportionate to maintain the suspension pending the summary review on 25 July.”
The licensing panel decided not to modify or withdraw the ‘interim step’ to temporarily suspend the club’s premises licence which was imposed on 1 July.
A summary review of the licence will be heard on Monday, 25 July at 10am.
Bloom, which has been contacted for comment, previously released a statement which read: “Due to the severity of an incident which occurred in the club on Wednesday, Bloom Manchester will be closed to allow for a complete investigation to take place. We are working with the police and giving every assistance possible and ask for our customer’s understanding and patience at this time.”