O2 Academy Brixton operator plans new crowd barriers if venue can reopen after fatal crush

Two people died after crowds rushed the door at an Asake gig at the O2 Academy Brixton (PA Wire)
Two people died after crowds rushed the door at an Asake gig at the O2 Academy Brixton (PA Wire)

The Brixton O2 Academy wants to install enhanced crowd control barriers if it is allowed to reopen after a fatal crush which killed two and left a third seriously injured.

The Metropolitan Police called for the venue to be stripped of its licence after a crush at an Asake gig in December claimed the lives of Gabrielle Hutchinson, 23, a security worker, and mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo, 33.

The future of the music venue will be decided at a two-day hearing before Lambeth Council on September 11 and 12.

Among several measures proposed by the operator ahead of the hearing are for new “safe crowd break barriers” during gigs, a system of 20 tannoys for delivering crowd safety announcements, and new spotlights to better illuminate queues for the venue.

Academy Music Group is seeking to stay open under revised conditions after September’s hearings, saying it can do so safely.

But Scotland Yard has said it has “lost confidence” in AMG after the tragedy.

The crush occurred on December 15, when concertgoers - many of them thought to be ticketless - tried to force their way into the sold-out gig by Afrobeats singer Asake.

In a letter to the council, officers said staff and security had “lost control” over the situation.

Scotland Yard has since launched a criminal investigation involving a range of potential allegations including corporate manslaughter, criminal negligence manslaughter, unlawful act manslaughter and health and safety at work offences along with violent disorder and assault.

Lambeth Council is also conducting a separate health and safety probe, led by former council Chief Executive Paul Martin.

The venue was required to cease all licensable activities in January, pending a decision on its future.

Councillors will decide at next month’s meeting whether to allow the venue to stay open under changed terms or to strip it of its licence.