The O2 Academy Brixton has had its licence suspended until 16 January, following last Thursday’s crowd crush which led to two fatalities and several other people being hospitalised.
Metropolitan Police were called to the 4,921-capacity south London venue after a large number of people tried to force their way into a concert by afro-pop singer Asake. The concert was abandoned 10 minutes after Asake took to the stage.
The Grade-II listed O2 Academy Brixton is operated by the Academy Music Group (AMG). Majority owned by Live Nation Entertainment, AMG runs around 20 venues nationwide including the 3,009-capacity O2 Academy Birmingham and the 2,550-capacity O2 Academy Glasgow.
The decision to close the venue, pending a review of the licence on 16 January, will impact scheduled events at the venue including a New Year’s Eve party, three Chase Atlantic gigs and shows by Heilung and Trivium.
Lambeth Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee met yesterday, 22 December, and took the decision after the Met Police submitted an application for a Summary License Review on 20 December.
During the council meeting, the Met Police said there had been a similar crush in February 2020 when concerns were raised about the strength of the front doors during a concert by fellow Afrobeat singer Naira Marley.
Cllr Mahamed Hashi, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, said, “A tragic incident has happened in our borough and we are dealing with its devastating impact on our communities. Our thoughts are with those who have suffered, especially the families and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson who have tragically lost their lives.
“I wish to thank my colleagues on the sub-committee for their careful and rigorous work in looking at this issue at this first stage of the process. We will now continue with our work to reassure our communities about safety at the venue, get the answers needed about how this happened and support the Met police investigations into these tragic events.”
The Council said a Met police Specialist Crime Command criminal investigation is being carried out by detectives reviewing CCTV, phone footage, speaking to witnesses and carrying out forensic examinations.
A spokesperson for AMG said, “The venue will be closed pending review of the licence which will take place on 16 January 2023. Anyone with tickets to events impacted by this will be contacted by the ticket agent or original point of purchase. We continue to fully co-operate with the investigation.”
The crowd surge was the latest in a series of crowd problems at events worldwide, with security experts reporting a distinct change in behaviour at events since the pandemic subsided.
United Kingdom Crowd Management Association chair Eric Stuart told Access that among the by-products of the lockdowns is that young people lack experience of how to behave in crowds: “They haven’t had that familiarity with the pack and how to behave in that environment, so we’ve seen some real aggressive and extreme behaviours resulting from an apparent sense of intolerance and entitlement.”