CLUBBERS will be stopped and searched for drugs and weapons on entry to a nightclub which is said to be East Lancashire’s worst in terms of complaints to police.

The measures passed by Burnley Council’s licensing committee on the Mode nightclub, Hammerton Street, come after fears about under-age drinking and safety of people leaving the premises.

PC Mick Jones, licensing officer, told the meeting: “I have interrogated the Police Innkeeper System which is a system where incidents linked to certain premises are documented and we can see lists of premises and which are causing issues.

“Mode was number one for the highest number of incidents in Burnley and also number one in the East of Lancashire division which was alarming.

“It is difficult to quantify whether it was one major incident or a series of less serious incidents which brought together make exceptional circumstance and I believe it to be a bit of both.”

In the licensing documents, PC Jones presented records that there were 62 incidents in the past 12 months, which included a 17-year-old being possibly sexually assaulted and then taken in an unconscious state to hospital after claims her drink had been spiked in the club and another on the same night of an 18-year-old being hospitalised.

In the report, PC Jones stated that PCSOs identified three children photographed in the club for the official Mode Facebook page, one aged 17, and the other two aged 15.

One of the 15-year-olds suffers from mental health problems, issues with alcohol and illegal substances and is at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE). Police know the other 15-year-old is again at risk of CSE and involved in county lines drug trade.

He added: “A further report came from the mother of a 15-year-old who saw her son on the official Mode photographs in the company of two older males who are known to be part of an organised crime group.”

However, barrister Leo Charalambides, representing Mode Nightclub, questioned the evidence put forward by police. He said some of the incidents allegedly connected to the club end as a 'damp squib'.

He also added that the evidence police around incidents allegedly related to the club presented to the committee was not a full or accurate picture. He there was 'evidence not read' or 'worse still willfully ignored to prejudice and colour their presentation'.

He said: "I am greatly concerned it (the evidence) does not stand up to scrutiny in respect of the incidents they are relying on heavily."

He said in the incident of the girl being allegedly sexually assaulted it was claimed she had been at another nightclub.

He said: "You have allegations of people being assaulted and it ends up as a damp squib.

"Why are we not getting the full picture, why are we having to scrutinise responsible authorities in this way?

"It happens too many times as we know they are too busy and have many other serious issues to deal with at the moment.

"Nonetheless, given this review took place before lockdown we thought they would have done their homework."

Regarding North West Ambulance Service figures on incidents supposedly related to the club, Mr Charalambides said it was 'a great leap to say they are directly linked to Mode when all the evidence mentions 'in the vicinity'."

He said: "The police are saying they want more improvements and I am going to the use the review as a pressure point to get more improvements because the vast majority of experiences for this nightclub are positive.

"You have seen from the witness statement from licensee Rebecca McQuoid, with the sheer numbers of people that come to this venue, the reality is that, bar this one-sided narrow misplaced view of evidence, what you have is a good club.

"The reality is we want to have a vibrant, effective night-time economy for most of us and places like this are hugely important.

"Particularly as these premises are not to open likely until the autumn and the likelihood is that they are not going to open unless they can achieve some sort of physical distancing."

He added that he did not take kindly to the view of the quality of the police evidence because it does not stand up to scrutiny and only of of SIA Officers had been investigated, charged and dealt with and 'that is the only item that has been substantiated in any significance'.

"In terms of the young man suffering graphic injuries that we have seen photographs, we again don't know the chain of events as we don't know where he has been and we have no statement from him and has not co-operated with the police and we only know about is because his mum has said and that is not good enough.

In summing up, he said: "What you have at the end of the day when you take out the passion and personality is an operator who has said through witness statements with legal advice, this is an operator who has been investing in two legal advisors.

"She is willing to put money behind her response. I will work with the police, I will improve CCTV and I will move forward with an operating schedule that is fit for purpose, today, not what in last year or 2017.

"I need this checkup and I am responding with a prescription that adopts all the police recommendations." 

A dedicated welfare officer will be on site and that was one of the conditions listed in the licensing approval. 

During the hearing, a question raised by Cllr Howard Baker found that police were satisfied regarding a suggestion by the premises licence holder for 'every person to be searched on entry and exit for drugs'.

PC Jones added that was one of the conditions they wanted and it would 'eliminate chances of people' picking up items when go out for a smoke.

It was heard that a new security company had been employed by bosses at Mode. 

There was an issue with the CCTV at the club which frustrated the investigation, the committee heard. New conditions include bosses installing colour CCTV cameras to record footage when the premises is open.

Also when they are open they must have a ‘member of staff on duty who has been trained in relation to the CCTV and who is subsequently able to access and operate the system and provide downloads’ and they must be provided ‘no later than 48 hours’ from a request.

Mode will also become ‘completely glass free with all sales served only in plastic or polycarbonate containers’ except in the VIP area when they are supervised.

Meanwhile only Security Industry Authority-registered staff can work on the site and ‘when licensable activities take place after 4am there will be a minimum of four SIA registered door supervisors working’.

Also one door supervisor must be at the smoking area to stop people bypassing the security checks.

The security staff will also be wearing bodycams and will be in radio communication with other supervisors for a ‘quick response’ to incidents.

There were also concerns about a duty of care to people leaving the nightclub but new restrictions say they need a clear customer dispersal policy in place.

On the conditions it said: “Such a policy should minimise noise disturbance and potential disorder from customers leaving the premises.

“The premises will cease the selling of alcohol and will close at 6am with all patrons leaving the premises as soon as practicable and in any case within 30 minutes.”

Bosses must also link up with a taxi service to provide a taxi freephone to assist bookings so that people can leave the premises quickly and safely. There will be a strict over-18s policy for people getting into the club.