Club knifing ‘only a matter of time’
POLICE fear that a shooting or stabbing is imminent at one of Finsbury Park’s longest-running nightclubs unless opening hours are cut back to 2am.
Councillors will review Orleans nightclub’s 24-hour licence at the Town Hall on Monday at the request of police, who say they have been called to the Seven Sisters Road venue 58 times in the past 18 months.
But landlord Anthony Raphael, who has run Orleans for more than 10 years, maintains “there have been no incidents of gun or knife crime in the club”, adding that many of the incidents cited by police happened outside the venue.
In a report submitted to the council’s licensing panel, Islington police licensing officer PC Mark Usher said: “There have been numerous mentions of knives and/or firearms having been used or seen. Often this cannot be substantiated but police feel it is only a matter of time before there is another shooting or serious stabbing.”
The list of incidents provided to the panel include:
l September 2006: two people shot as they left the club.
l July 2007: 40 people involved in a fight outside Orleans.
l October 2007: door staff confronted by a group of men who threatened to come back with guns.
Mr Raphael, 55, said his door staff use metal detectors to search all customers and the club has CCTV inside and outside the venue.
“You’re secure in the club but you can’t vouch for everyone who comes in because you don’t know them in your day-to-day life,” he added. “I know some things can be attributed to the club but many happened outside or near us.”
Orleans attracts fans of reggae and R’n’B as well as a group of mods and rockers, who recently celebrated their 17th anniversary of meeting at the club. Mr Raphael said: “Before these matters I had an exemplary relationship with the council. The police said they’ve been called out 58 times in the last 18 months. They haven’t been called to the club. They’ve been called to the street.
“Research shows that where there’s a large station or Tube station there’s a higher level of crime and we’re near one. There’s also a 24-hour off-licence and buses run all night. If something happens in Finsbury Park and people want to call the police they use us as a landmark.”