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O2 Academy Brixton proposes stonger doors to make venue more secure after tragic crush in December last year

The O2 Academy Brixton has pledged to make its doors “more secure” as it fights to stay open after a deadly crush in December last year.

The south London venue was temporarily stripped of its licence after security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, were killed at the venue.

Fans without tickets tried to force their way into a show by Nigerian artist Asake.

Its future is being decided by Lambeth Council’s licensing subcommittee.

It is holding a two-day hearing to determine whether the venue is safe for use.

Stronger doors are among several measures being proposed by the Academy Music Group (AMG), which runs the venue.

Dog handler Gaby Hutchinson

It comes as the doors were breached when the crowd poured into the lobby towards the auditorium and surged over people who had fallen to the floor.

AMG said changes to its operating policies had been developed by “leading professionals” to prevent a repeat of last year’s events.

Philip Kolvin KC, representing AMG, acknowledged “things went very wrong” last year, and said the company expressed its “profound sorrow” for the suffering caused to the families of those who died.

Rebecca Ikumelo

AMG, which has operated the venue for 20 years, had done “all in its power to analyse what went wrong,” he added.

Mr Kolvin said AMG’s proposed safety measures would be “stronger” than those in place last year, and would include making “the doors more secure”.

The venue has spent £1.2 million on maintenance and improvements in 2023, despite being closed, he added.

The venue is proposing to complete a more detailed risk assessment for every show based on the type of music and the demographic of attendees, details of which will be shared with the council and Met Police beforehand.

But chairman of the subcommittee, councillor Fred Cowell, raised concerns the new system could become a “proxy for racial discrimination”.

Mr Kolvin responded that “black music is the cultural beating heart” of the country, and said AMG wanted event visitors to have a “good time but go home alive”.

The meeting retired to a private session to discuss further details of last year’s incident.

A total of 165 security staff were used for the Asake show, the highest number the venue had ever used, the committee was told.

About 1,000 people were outside the venue and police found “large-scale disorder” with crowds eventually pushing the doors open, according to Gerald Gouriet KC, who represented the Met at the earlier licensing meeting.

A police investigation was launched and the Security Industry Authority opened an inquiry into corruption allegations made after the crush.

A 21-year-old woman, who was injured in the crush, remains in hospital in a critical condition.

(Source: BBC)

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