The owners of Newcastle nightclubs House of Smith, Floritas and Madame Koo have won their appeal against further closures, after police found evidence of staff allowing drugs to be distributed on the premises.
The closures came as a shock to many, with the Diamond Strip on Collingwood Street being a popular clubbing scene in the city centre.
The undercover investigation was conducted by Northumbria police last December and raised “concerns about serious criminal activity, namely the supply of Class A drugs taking place both on and near to the premises”.
A temporary shutdown was ordered by the council until further investigation could take place.
Despite the seriousness of the offences, Newcastle City Council has since accepted the appeal of owners against further closures. They have stated that they are satisfied with the changes put in place by the clubs’ management.
The Apartment Group, who as well as owning the clubs manage a number of restaurants and hotels in the North-East, have apparently put into place 15 new regulations that have been demanded by the council.[pullquote]In 2017, Public Health England identified the region as “an area with marked deprivation, health inequalities and a high prevalence of drug use”[/pullquote]
“We are comfortable the Apartment group have fully addressed all the issues that were raised,” the Council have stated. “...significant changes have since been made that reflect the gravity of the offences.”
The initial closures spanned from late December to early January. During this time, police seized £17,000 as well as an estimated £14,000 worth of cocaine from the venues.
An imitation pistol was also found and is being held as evidence along with the drugs.
Undercover police reports claim that drug dealers would roam freely between the clubs and were given “celebrity status”, bypassing queues and entering VIP areas without being searched.
A total of 21 people were arrested along with the initial closures but have since been released as they pend further investigation.
Illicit drug supply and use in Newcastle has increased in recent years, with an intensive drugs review published in 2014 finding that the North East has the “highest rates of drug related deaths in the UK”.
In 2017, Public Health England identified the region as “an area with marked deprivation, health inequalities and a high prevalence of drug use.”
In response to this increasing problem, Northumbria police have claimed they are taking control of the issue, stating in October that “...a lot of work is being done in partnership with Newcastle City Council to tackle it.”
It is hoped that the recent investigations and arrests signifies a step forward for the police department in this regard.