Live events sector
In the United Kingdom, Birmingham City Council has revoked the licence of The Rainbow Venues nightclub complex, following the drug-related death of a teenager last month. The decision was made after nineteen year old Michael Trueman died at a Halloween event after taking MDMA in the venue’s toilets. He died in hospital the next day.
Resident Advisor reports that PC Abdul Rohomon from the West Midlands told a licensing hearing that the Police had “no option but to call for Rainbow’s licence to be revoked” as this was the second drug-related death in the eleven room complex in two years, the first being eighteen year old Dylan Booth in 2015. He added that there was also “evidence that a fifteen year-old boy has been admitted to the venue”, based on video footage collected from Snapchat. Rohoman added: “There are around 3000 licensed premises in Birmingham and this is the only venue which has suffered drug related deaths. The most stringent measures are in place yet drugs are still being consumed inside the venue”.
The Guardian reports that The Rainbow Venues already took robust action to restrict drug use. In a case that will remind many of the near closure of Fabric in London, Rainbow has CCTV, sniffer dogs and random searches in place in a bid to prevent drug use at its events. However the Police are clearly not satisfed and PC Rohomon added, “some customers … use the most extreme measures to smuggle drugs including putting pills in car keys and also intimate places in their body. We simply can’t guarantee that no drugs will ever get through”.
The venue has confirmed that it will now be appealing the decision to permanently revoke its licence. It also denied that a fifteen year old had been admitted to the venue and then reasserted that it had adhered to all the conditions of its licence. In the statement, Rainbow Venues also talked up the impact of its operations on Birmingham’s nighttime economy, and on the wider creative industries, adding added that commercial activities in the main Rainbow Warehouse venue subsidised many non-profit making projects. “We have been resurrecting redundant buildings and regenerating an area around Digbeth with creating and performing arts spaces”, the venue’s management said. “Showcasing new local and international talent, theatre, comedy, food and electronic music … Every penny that came in was re-invested into Birmingham helping enhance Birmingham’s nighttime economy and enhance our customers’ experience” adding “We believe the future economic success of Birmingham is dependent on the ability to both attract and retain talent. Whilst we have several great universities in Birmingham, many new graduates head straight for the bright lights of the capital. Part of our challenge to retain them should be a forward thinking interesting city that values recreation arts and culture. Closing down venues that offer so much to the city is not going to help us achieve this”.
As the venue’s organisers rightly said, no one can “promise that drugs will not enter licensed premises”, but that it was the drug users, not the venue, who had broken the law and that drug abuse was a “global society issue” and that there needed to be “a universal, collaborative approach to the UK’s drug problem. Let’s educate and not be so quick to revoke licences that practice the correct policies”.