Middlesbrough Empire club has licence suspended following teenage stabbing

The Middlesbrough Empire has had its licence suspended for four weeks. Credit: Google maps

A popular Middlesbrough nightclub has had its licence suspended following two violent incidents.

The Middlesbrough Empire has had its licence suspended for four weeks.

A two-day hearing was held earlier this month and a decision was made on Tuesday 27 September.

The move came after two violent incidents were linked to under 18s.

Three boys, one aged 15 and two aged 16, were arrested after a 19-year-old club goer was stabbed in the back in the early hours of Sunday 1 May.

An underage drinker was also hit in the face after getting into a fight on 4 April.

The stabbing victim’s parents attended the hearing at Middlesbrough Town Hall which began on Thursday 15 September.

The teenager’s mother said: “I don’t want The Empire closed down but I want to make it the safest venue in Middlesbrough not only for myself but for thousands of people.

"I don’t want anyone to go through what me and my husband have gone through – it’s been traumatising. It could have been a murder scene.”

At the hearing, barrister Duncan Craig, representing The Empire, said it was a terrible incident but the club had taken a number of steps to improve since. Empire owner Ashley Wem has previously apologised for the attack.

He added: “I am genuinely sorry for what happened to the young man who was wounded in our venue.

"I have run this venue for over 30 years and the safety of people attending our venue has always been at the forefront of my mind, and I believe my track record over the period supports that.”

The Middlesbrough Empire faced a two-day hearing earlier this month after Cleveland Police triggered a review of its licence.

The Corporation Road club has 21 days to appeal the decision and if it decides to do so it will be able to continue trading until the appeal is heard at Teesside Magistrates’ Court.

If The Empire chooses to accept the panel’s decision, the suspension will commence in three weeks’ time.

The suspension will mean the club could be forced to temporarily close and introduce a raft of new measures to keep clubbers safe.

The club is popular with Teesside University students who have just returned after summer.

The suspension, if it goes ahead, would affect the venue’s weekly club nights – Creeps on a Thursday, The Dead Rebel Club on a Friday and Shangri-La on a Saturday.

A report by the licensing committee report said: “The committee decided in order to protect children from harm, prevent crime and disorder and public nuisance and to endeavour to ensure public safety it was appropriate to” suspend the premises licence for a period of four weeks.

The new conditions will mean that bouncers will be expected to wear body cameras and a knife arch will also be introduced.

During the hearing, the Empire argued that a knife arch was not needed as wands are already used to scan people, which can detect weapons.

The new piece of kit would cost between £3,000 to £15,000 to install.

The committee decided to require the venue to fit a knife arch as it would rule out human error or potential misuse of discretion by the door supervisors.

At least half of the venue’s bouncers will also need to wear a body-cam.

The council’s decision report added: “As there have been issues of violence disorder and ejections some which allege wrongdoing by door supervisors, the footage would be tool for the premises licence holder to identify, plan for and prevent such issues arising and confirm whether policies and procedures are being carried out correctly.”

Other conditions include ensuring no clubbers enter or leave with glass bottles or any open container, the logging of how many people are refused and the reasons why, and a requirement for magnetic locks on external fire doors subject to the fire authorities’ approval.

A spokesperson from The Middlesbrough Empire said: "Customer safety has always been of the utmost importance to The Empire and the improvements we have made to venue safety and security since reopening after Covid in July 2021 have been well documented. 

"We have always worked closely with licensing, the police and the local council and we will continue to do so."

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