Nightlife in Croydon is suffering from a lack of variety caused by heavy-handed policing, according to frustrated venue owners and residents.You mean it’s impossible to find a venue where the floor isn’t a little bit sticky with blood?
About thirty people attended a public meeting in the town centre last night to discuss the dire state of Croydon’s night-time economy, a debate prompted by the recent closure of the long-standing Tiger Tiger nightclub.
On the surface it might have appeared an unlikely forum to find solutions to the issue; more people were sipping lattes than beer or wine, and a reporter covering the meeting was one of the few present aged under 25.
The lack of ethnic diversity of those gathered was also acknowledged by some participants.Oh noes! Hipsters!
But the ideas and frustrations that emerged from discussions suggested an acute awareness of the problems that face the after-hours landscape of Croydon.
The major theme to emerge was a dissatisfaction with policing; specifically, a perceived bias against venues putting on events playing certain types of music, including hip-hop, grime, and reggae.
The requirement for 'risk assessment' 696 forms made it harder to stage such events, venue owners claimed, and a heavy police presence when they did go ahead unsettled customers and dissuaded them from coming back.Ah, I see. We’re back to that old chestnut, are we?
Look, of course the police are going to turn up mob handed when these sorts of events are staged. They don’t need to form a cordon outside productions of ‘Der Fliedermaus’, or the local choral recital’s free Christmas Carol concert in the church hall, because trouble rarely breaks out there. But outside these sort of events, it often does.
You can call it ‘racial profiling’ if you want to, but I prefer the term ‘risk assessment’.
Labour councillor Mark Watson, while defending the work of police in the borough, recognised that there might a need for change.
He said: “There might be a risk, but you might need that to create a diverse night-time economy.
"We're concerned that a line of police officers can be off-putting to people, but their view is they want to be on-hand."Thanks awfully, Mark, but I’ll take a bland homogenised safe event over a diverse and vibrant one any time.