Alan Miller: "We must ensure our clubs are not one incident away from closure"
Fabric is open but, according to the NTIA Chairman, the night time community needs to stand up for itself
We need an honest and grown-up conversation about drug taking in the UK. The British Medical Journal last week had a report recommending the legalisation of all illegal drugs for the benefit of society and states in the USA including California, Alaska and Colorado have legalised marijuana and in Portugal there has been decriminalisation of previously controlled substances. The War on Drugs has been criticised by many international experts and has taken an enormous toll in terms of incarceration of citizens, with pressure on prison services and iolence on borders. While it is absolutely of benefit to have initiatives set up by organisations like The Loop, run by Professor Fiona Measham, that test drugs and encourage harm reduction as a safety mechanism for public health and, indeed, businesses, we should not lose sight of the fact that licensed premises are being held accountable for increasing amounts of behaviour by individuals that they are themselves victims of.
Fabric now has a raft of additional license conditions as well as having a mandatory age of entry of 19. It is of course correct that venues should be able to decide who comes in to their premises and why. However, without broader changes to legislation and on the ground partnership with police forces, these types of increased security measures and impositions impact the vibrancy of our nightlife for the music loving public and the industry alike.
The British public voted against identity cards, yet nowadays so many places require ID to gain access to a venue. CCTV and ID Scans have been increasingly promoted by the police, along with requirements for ever increasing security personnel and sometimes even metal detectors and Breathalyzers to get in. This is all part of an approach that has seen police forces being asked to deal with ever increasing issues from terrorism to cyber crime, while having their resources cut by 40 per cent. Understandably, they are struggling and concerned. However, turning our world leading licensed premises into prison-style checks – just see the recent coverage of Pentonville prison where all aspects of prison life can be supervised and regulated and again, drugs cannot be prevented – creates an uninviting environment for what is a very well-behaved British public and international tourists. It is unsurprising that so many increasingly vote with their feet and head to Berlin, Amsterdam and Barcelona for a night out.