Croydon nightclub closed over murder fears
A NIGHTCLUB that has been linked to gang violence has been shut down amid police claims that someone might be murdered.
Detectives feared a shooting was about to happen after gang members were reported to be gathering at a promoted event at The Roxbury, in Croydon High Street, on November 10.
Police have now secured a temporary closure order for the club. The council is due to decide within a month if it can open again.
At a Croydon Magistrates' Court hearing on Thursday, November 15, police said they were obstructed from clearing the 800-capacity venue on the night in question.
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They highlighted another incident at The Roxbury, in which a prominent gang member was hit over the head with a tripod and seen fighting at the door last August.
But Lionel Kerr, premises licence holder at the club, accused the police of racism and one officer of wanting to ride in "like the Ku Klux Klan" to "get rid" of the venue.
His accusations were strenuously denied by the police.
Addressing Mr Kerr, PC Darren Rhodes said: "Your management at the venue falls short, below what we expect, as does your security and your promoted events that are causing the problems."
The Met insists that "life and limb" would be at risk if the venue remained open.
The court heard the event at which a shooting was feared was re-advertised for another date after the police intervention.
Chief Inspector Duncan Slade said: "Since I've been in post I've seen an increasing threat of gang violence and increasingly it became focused on The Roxbury."
Mr Kerr said he simply was not able to look at every "young guy with braided hair" and assume they were a gang member.
He added: "How would I know that these guys are gang members?
"I believe they don't want a large black venue in central Croydon. We haven't got a problem with gangs or drugs.
"It's not all you can drink for ten pence – we're not doing that. We've got people paying £10 to £15 just to enter.
"That's how you generate money and keep things safe."
Mr Kerr added that around 75 per cent of people who go into his club are women, and the majority are over 25.
He said he spent thousands of pounds before opening three years ago on meeting police requirements on CCTV, panic alarms and safety.
Judge Tan Ikram said he it was unfortunate that "bad blood" existed between Mr Kerr and the police.
But he sided with the police in deciding the venue should remain closed until the local authority decides its future.
Referring to Chief Inspector Slade, Judge Ikram said: "What he says is that gang activity is increasingly focused on the Roxbury and the common thread throughout this is a lack of appropriate and sufficient security at the premises.
"I think it's necessary to close the premises in the interest of public safety.
"I'm referring it to the local authority."