Watchdog to investigate claims of corrupt security at O2 Brixton Academy

19 January 2023 by
Watchdog to investigate claims of corrupt security at O2 Brixton Academy

An investigation has been launched into claims of corruption by security staff after two people died in a crush at the O2 Brixton Academy.

Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, and Gaby Hutchinson, 23, were killed when ticketless fans tried to force entry to a sold-out concert by Nigerian afro beats artist Asake on 15 December.

The venue's licence has been suspended until 16 April following a request by the Metropolitan Police, who are investigating the incident.

Now the Security Industry Authority (SIA) has launched an inquiry into reports that security guards at the venue employed by AP Security regularly took bribes to let people in without tickets.

The claims were made in an episode of BBC File On 4: Catastrophe At The Academy where it was alleged staff would allow "a couple of hundred" people inside in exchange for money, and some "made £1,000 cash".

According to Lambeth Council documents, the concert was sold out and 5,000 people attended, but an hour after it started a crowd of around 1,000 people formed outside the venue and attempted to force their way in.

A police application to Lambeth Council for the O2 Brixton Academy's license to be revoked said it was clear security staff had "completely lost control of the situation" when officers arrived at the scene.

The SIA said: "As the regulator of the private security industry in the UK, we take allegations of corruption by security operatives extremely seriously.

"We have today launched an inquiry into these allegations which appear to extend beyond the Brixton O2 Academy.

"We will also review licensing arrangements and take appropriate action against any individual or company carrying out such practices as part of our regulatory licensing responsibility across the private security industry.

"We regularly meet with security companies to ensure their staff adhere to the highest professional standards. It is a requirement that contracted security staff have passed our accreditation process to secure a licence. If a security operative falls below these standards, we demand an immediate investigation by the company that employs them. This includes disciplinary action to be taken and where appropriate that the matter is reported to the police."

Academy Music Group, which owns the O2 Academy Brixton, said on Saturday (14 January) that it had "reflected deeply" on the incident and the venue would remain closed while it cooperated with police enquiries.

AP Security has been contacted for comment.

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