Drug taking and pick pocketing at venue

53 Degrees venue on Fylde Road, Preston

53 Degrees venue on Fylde Road, Preston

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Drug taking in the toilets and a spate of mobile phone thefts are on the charge list of one of Preston’s biggest venues.

A dossier of incidents show Lancashire Police officers were called to 53 Degrees, the live music venue at the city’s University of Central Lancashire, a total of 27 times.

The incidents took place between October 2010 and November 2012 and range from revellers being found with Class A drugs and serious assaults to people being drunk and disorderly and noise problems.

The head of the university’s Student Union which runs the venue said he expected an agreement to be reached between the venue and the police before a meeting to decide its future next month.

A licensing sub-committee made up of city councillors will decide whether to amend the terms of the venue’s licence following a request by the police.

The report from the police details how they had given the venue information about the risk of pick-pocketing at a Lost Prophets gig in November.

It said the intelligence was given to managers at 53 Degrees and police were assured measures would be “put in place to eliminate any crimes being committed.”

There were 16 mobile phones stolen at the even with a total value of nearly £5,000.

The report adds: “None of the victims reported having been informed about the issue on entering the music concert venue.”

It added that, in a conversation with police after the event, the venue’s management said they were unsure what would have been done differently to prevent the thefts.

The report also highlights a Northern Soul event hosted at the venue during the city’s Guild celebrations in September where “open drug use” in the venue’s toilets was reported to Preston Council.

It passed the information onto the police in November when the matter was raised with the venue’s management.

The deadline for other bodies, including the council’s environmental health department, and local residents closed last with no further complaints.

Student Union chief executive Peter Shilton-Godwin said: “We are working hard with the police to ensure when we get to the review, the concerns they have raised will be dealt with.”

At a meeting on Friday, January 11, the council’s licensing sub-committee will decide whether to vary the licence agreements of the venue.

The three-man committee will have options including take the 53 Degrees’ licence away, suspending the licence for up to three years, modifying conditions of the licence, banning the venue from hosting certain events, removing its management or taking no action.

The venue was granted its licence in March 2007.