Republik nightclub has been forced to close for the next three months following a court order.
District Judge Wendy Lloyd agreed to the Merseyside Police request after Republik, which describes itself as being “one of the crown jewels of Liverpool nightlife”, was closed as a result of a drugs squad raid on 23 February.
She said: “There is strong evidence that for a long period Republik has been physically unsafe and drug dealing has been endemic on the premises.”
Police launched the undercover operation after becoming concerned by the violent incidents in the Bold Street club, which they believed to have been fuelled by drugs. Witness statements show there had been at least 19 violent incidents in the course of a year, 10 of which involved security staff.
Judge Lloyd said the issues in Republik were not new ones and the police had been watching them for some time before the raid two weeks ago. Undercover police visited Republik 14 times and each time were successfully able to buy what is thought to have been cocaine.
Solicitor Carl Bruder, representing the club, suggested to the court that it should only be required to stay shut for three weeks. He argued that the owners were aware of the problems and had not turned a blind eye to the issues as they had already suspended several staff members and promoters in the process of reviewing their own procedures.
“There is a perspective that the police have that isn’t quite correct,” he added.
Barrister Lee Bonner, acting for Merseyside Police, said there was a “clear and common theme” that staff were engaged in selling drugs under the noses of management and that a complete overhaul of security and promoters would be necessary to tackle the problem.
District Judge Lloyd agreed with Merseyside Police in her closing statement. She said: “The club may not have to be physically rebuilt but its ethos and staff will have to change from the ground up.”
She stated: “They ought to know what’s happening in the club, they ought to have systems in place. They shouldn’t need the time to get their act together. Their act should have been together every day and every week.”
Five people were charged with drug dealing offences following the early morning police raid on the club two weeks ago. The club owners declined to comment on the decision taken in court.