Silks, 177-181 Rushey Green, Catford, SE6 4BD
Lewisham LBC, Licensing Committee
Application for review
1. The Metropolitan Police (“the Police”) have submitted an application to review the premises licence for Silks, 177-181 Rushey Green, Catford, SE6 4BD (“the Premises”) on the grounds of preventing crime and disorder, preventing public nuisance and public safety. The Police seek revocation of the licence or, as a fallback, removal of the Designated Premises Supervisor (“DPS”) and variations to the licence conditions.
2. The premises licence is held by Walk Safe Security Services Ltd (“the PLH”). The DPS is Sharna Johnson.
3. The Licensing Committee held a remote hearing using Microsoft Teams on 6 October 2022 to consider the application which was adjourned, as a matter of fairness to the PLH, following the submission of late evidence by the police. The parties were directed to file any further evidence in good time before today’s hearing.
4. In making its decision, the Committee has taken into account all of the papers in the reports pack and the evidence and submissions presented by the parties at the hearing. It has also taken into account the Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy and the Home Office’s statutory guidance.
5. Before today’s (remote) hearing began, the PLH’s representative informed the Council’s officers that it would not be attending today’s hearing, stating that it was unlawful to conduct this hearing remotely and that it did not wish to participate in an unlawful hearing. The Committee was advised that the hearing could lawfully proceed remotely and decided to proceed in the absence of the PLH.
6. The Committee’s decision is to revoke the licence. Its reasons are as follows:
· The Committee read detailed evidence submitted by the Police which showed a number of serious incidents associated with the premises, including a number of shocking episodes of violent assaults which were very poorly managed by the Premises’ security team. For instance, on 19 December 2021, an intoxicated customer was ejected from the Premises but not moved on. The Premises’ security team did not call the police. The customer attempted to ram the front door of the Premises with a Range Rover, mounting the pavement and putting pedestrians at risk of serious harm. As a further example, on 30 April 2022, a female was attacked in the street by two customers (one of them male) of the Premises with a glass bottle which had been taken out of the Premises. These and other incidents suggested to the Committee that the security arrangements at the Premises were completely inadequate.
· The Police stated, and the Committee accepted, that the PLH had not taken responsibility for the management failings at the Premises. For example, there was an alleged sexual assault at the Premises on 26 March 2022. When the Police requested CCTV footage from the Premises, it turned out that there was no footage due to a system failure and that the incident would not have been captured in any event because the cameras did not cover that part of the Premises (a breach of condition). The Committee were also very disappointed that the PLH did not attend today’s hearing and considered that there was no proper reason why it could not take part (even if it considered the use of Microsoft Teams to be unlawful). This was a further example of the PLH’s failure to engage with the responsible authorities and to take responsibility for its actions. It also meant the Committee was not presented with any evidence or submissions to rebut the case made by the Police.
· The evidence presented by the Police showed a pattern of serious incidents which were the result of management failings on the part of the PLH: incidents had been poorly managed as they occurred; and the PLH had failed to engage with the Police or to learn lessons and make improvements after those incidents.
7. For these reasons, the Committee concluded that it had lost confidence in the ability and willingness of the PLH to promote the licensing objectives. Therefore a modification of the licence and a replacement of the DPS would not be a sufficient response. Accordingly the Committee concluded that revocation of the licence was the only appropriate step.
8. Notwithstanding this decision, the Committee wished to note that it had concerns about the way in which the Police had presented its written and CCTV evidence. The written evidence ran to more than 100 pages and was very difficult to read. In future, the Committee requests that the Police provide a more concise summary of the evidence on which it relies and one which is easier for busy committee members to read. The Committee also had concerns that the CCTV footage had been disclosed by the Police to an unauthorised third party, which was not acceptable. Finally, in the circumstances of this hearing, the Committee did not consider it was necessary to view the (at times) harrowing CCTV footage, given that the incidents had been described in detail in the written evidence and there was no challenge to that evidence from the PLH. In future, the Committee requests that the Police carefully consider what CCTV evidence (if any) is necessary to support its case.
9. There is a right of appeal against this decision. Any appeal should be made to the magistrates’ court within 21 days beginning with the day on which the appellant was notified of this decision.
4.1 The Chair welcomed all parties to the Licensing Committee. She introduced those present, and outlined the procedure to be followed for the meeting. At the request of the Chair, Mr Lewin explained that the Premises Licence Holder had informed officers that they would not be participating in the hearing because they objected to the use of a remote hearing.
4.2 The Chair said this application was for the review of a premises licence for Silks which had been considered on 6 October 2022. At that meeting it was agreed that the decision be postponed to this meeting. A deadline was given to the applicant, the Police, and to the respondent, Silks, for the submission of all evidence. The evidence received from the Police had been sent to all members of the Committee and the videos received would be played at this meeting. Evidence had not been received from Silks. The Chair then invited Mr Lockett to introduce the application.
Senior Licensing Officer
4.3 Mr Lockett said that following receipt of this review, an application was also made for a minor variation to the premises licence by Walk Safe Security Services Ltd. (the licence holder). This application was included at pages 44- 55 in the agenda.
4.4 Mr Lockett said that this hearing was in relation to an application for the review of a licence made by the Metropolitan Police for Silks 177 – 181 Rushey Green Catford SE6 4BD. The premises were alleged to be undermining the licensing objectives of the prevention of Crime and Disorder, Public Safety and the Prevention of Public Nuisance. The Police were seeking the revocation of the licence. He outlined the options open to members of the Committee when making their decision.
4.5 Mr O’BrienO’Reilly presented the case for the Police. He said that the applicants sought revocation of the premises licence, based on the licensing objectives of the prevention of Crime and Disorder, Public Safety & the Prevention of Public Nuisance. A serious incident had been associated with the premises which had undermined the licensing objectives. There were underlying problems at the premises and the management was so poor that revocation of the licence was the only course of action, otherwise the licensing objectives would not be promoted.
4.6 Mr O’BrienO’Reilly said that the chronology of incidents was set out in page 16 of the agenda. In summary he said that the repeated failure of management to comply with conditions on the current licence, had resulted in incidents that had taken place and undermined public safety and given rise to serious concerns of crime and disorder and public nuisance. There had been complaints from residents, the Police and local authority and every incident had an impact on Police resources.
4.7 Members were informed that on 19 December 2021 an intoxicated individual was ejected from Silks after having caused a disturbance inside the premises and making verbal threats. Security did not move him on and he remained to cause a nuisance outside the premises. Management did not call the Police. The individual then left the area only to return soon after in his Ranger Rover which he drove through the front door. Patrons standing outside the premises screamed and ran to avoid the car. The Police only became aware of this incident because a patrol car was passing at the time. Officers stopped and intervened. They smashed the windows and arrested the driver.
4.8 After the incident on 19 December 2021, Police Licensing officers went to Silks. They spoke to the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) and management about the events that took place. Staff did not believe that they were responsible for the behaviour of their patrons nor did they believe that there had been any risk to customers.
4.9 On 21 December 2021, Police officers attended the premises and management said that they did not know when to call Police. They were concerned that Police would put them on a list of problematic establishments. This indicated the reason why Police had not been called to incidents at the premises. In addition, staff attempted to blame patrons and considered that the incidents had been minor. However, a serious injury was only averted because of the intervention of the Police.
4.10 On 3 March 2022, Carlos Harris the previous DPS for Silks, attended a Wave training course on the vulnerability of customers. However, on 26 March 2022, between 3am and 4am, a serious sexual assault was alleged to have taken place inside the premises. The perpetrator followed her and a further assault took place outside. When Police attempted to obtain a copy of the CCTV taken on 3 March, they were advised that management had not noticed that the system had failed and the footage was lost. The perpetrator could not be identified. This was a breach of the licence. In addition, even if the CCTV footage had been available, it did not cover the area where the alleged assault took place. This was another breach because all areas open to the public should be covered by CCTV.
4.11 Outside the premises on 30 April 2022 at 4am as a customer was leaving the premises, they were attacked by another person who was waiting outside. The attack took place in full view of door staff. The attack escalated and continued down the street. Although a member of staff tried to intervene, he was unable to control the situation. A glass bottle that had been taken from the premises was then smashed over the victim’s head. When the Police spoke to Mr Harris, he denied that the incident had taken place and said that there had been a debriefing at the end of the night and nothing had been reported. However, local CCTV clearly showed the events of that evening. Police were also concerned that they had not been contacted to assist with this incident.
4.12 In conclusion, Mr O’BrienO’Reilly said that Police believed that revocation was the only decision that could be made because of the repeated failure of management and DPS to engage with the Police and accept their concerns regarding the management of the premises.
4.13 As part of the evidence, on which the Police intended to rely at the meeting, two videos were shown. They evidenced the events that took place outside Silks on 30 April and 25 June 2022.
4.14 Councillor Jackson said that Police had asked for extra conditions to be added to Silks’ premises licence and this had been agreed. He asked the Police why they still considered it necessary to revoke the licence. Mr O’BrienO’Reilly said that the Police had lost confidence in the ability of the management to manage the premises, even with the extra modifications, following several serious incidents that had been outlined in this meeting.
4.15 Councillor Warner said that one of the conditions was to provide a paramedic on site every Friday and Saturday, from 2100hrs until closing. He asked whether this had been trialled anywhere else and why these days and hours had been suggested, particularly since Police logs suggested that there were wider concerns. P.C Butler said that he did not believe that a paramedic would be any assistance in this case. Other establishments in the borough did have a paramedic, but Police had lost all confidence in Silks being able to manage the premises. Staff did not know when to call the emergency services even when incidents were as serious as those reported to this Committee and they had not even been logged.
4.16 Mr Lockett said that there was one establishment that employed a paramedic and that was Hatch Club in New Cross. This condition was an Annex 3 condition, so it would have been agreed by this Licensing Committee.
4.17 In summary, Mr O’BrienO’Reilly said that video and written evidence showed that Silks had been associated with a catalogue of incidents. Management had failed to manage the premises efficiently, failed to respect the conditions on their licence and failed to engage with the Police. In addition incidents had not been logged in the incident book. Staff had refused to take responsibility for the safety of their patrons despite attending training. Conditions on the licence would not be appropriate, and in order to promote the four licensing objectives, the premises licence should be revoked.
4.18 The Chair said that she was satisfied that members of this Committee had seen and heard all the information required to make a decision. Members confirmed that they had been present throughout the meeting and had not lost connection. The Chair said that a decision letter would be sent out within 5 working days. She thanked all parties for their attendance, and they left the meeting.
The applicants all left the meeting. Following deliberation, it was:
RESOLVED that the premises licence be revoked.