Hanley gentlemen's club ST1 has been closed permanently after evidence of fraud, drink spiking, drug dealing, violence and prostitution were heard by a licensing committee.
Staffordshire Police licensing officers say they had been working with the club's owner and licensee for many years to try and reduce crime and disorder, but asked for the licence to be revoked over concerns they were not upholding their responsibilities.
A Stoke-on-Trent City Council's licensing sub-committee held on 10 March heard evidence including:
- Alleged credit card fraud as a result of customers having their drinks spiked. A number of customers reported to the police that they had discovered up to £2,000 missing from their bank accounts the following morning despite no memory of authorising payments.
- Evidence of drug dealing and high levels of cocaine detected in the staff room and toilet in several inspections by officers. When challenged ST1 claimed they searched 1 in 4 customers, but scrutiny of CCTV on the front door by licensing officers discovered no evidence of searches taking place.
- During a 31 month period there were 16 violent incidents at the venue. The committee noted a lack of duty of care given by the owner towards his customers as there were reports of injured customers being dragged out onto the street and left there.
- Evidence of dancers offering sex acts to customers who pay a premium fee and the committee witnessed CCTV footage showing dancers simulating or performing sexual acts on customers.
- CCTV cameras not being in operation in certain areas of the venue despite repeated reminders and technical assistance by officers.
An appeal was lodged following the committee's decision to revoke the premises licence, which was expected to be heard in July, but now that appeal has been withdrawn ST1 has been closed with immediate effect.
ST1 has also surrendered their Sexual Entertainment Venue Licence.
The owner of ST1 is also in the process of being investigated for breaches of the SEV and a court date is expected to be set soon.
Chief inspector Neil Hulme, commander of the Stoke Central local policing team which covers Hanley, said: "ST1 has been a regular cause of community unrest and disorder over many years, so the decision by the Licensing Sub-Committee is a very welcome one.
"We do a lot of work with our partners and licensed establishments in Hanley to make the city centre a safe and welcoming environment. Unfortunately ST1 has continued to undo the good work done and its closure will make a real difference to the levels of crime and disorder in the city centre."
Superintendent Carl Ratcliffe, head of prevention and early intervention, which includes licensing, added: "Our licensing officers try their hardest to work with businesses and encourage them to meet high standards of responsible retailing. Sadly ST1 has for many years ignored those standards forcing my team to investigate them further. Over time we have built a catalogue of evidence showing a wide variety of criminal activity involving the venue.
"Revoking the licence and shutting down the establishment will hopefully disrupt that criminal activity and make the city centre a safer environment as a result.
"I would just like to offer my congratulations to the licensing team for the comprehensive and pain-staking work they have undertook to put forward a compelling case for ST1's closure."