Brighton’s oldest gay bar faces losing its licence after police applied for a review after persistent underage drinking and a string of sex attacks on drunk and vulnerable women.
Sussex Police notified the owners of the Bulldog in St James’s Street that it was asking Brighton and Hove City Council to review its licence, saying that officers had been called to the bar almost 50 times in the past 18 months.
Police say the bar’s agreed licensing objectives to prevent crime and disorder, ensure public safety and to protect children from harm, have been seriously and consistently undermined.
The city council’s licensing committee will now be asked to weight up police evidence at a future meeting, at which the bar will also be given a chance to defend itself.
And it has already come out fighting, by launching a petition to “help save the bar” which has already been signed by more than 500 people.
Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp, divisional policing commander for Brighton and Hove, said: “Submitting a review application is a serious step and we have consistently tried to work with the Bulldog to address these issues but there has been little discernible improvement and there continues to be a blatant disregard for people’s safety and welfare, so we have been left with no other option.
“The continued risks posed to public safety and particularly the vulnerable by the venue is unacceptable and I am determined that this does not continue any longer.”
The review application cites 48 incidents where police have been called to the pub since January 2014, in addition to a test purchase operation on Friday 17 July where alcohol was sold to a 17-year-old child. The premises licence includes a condition prohibiting under 18s and a challenge 21 condition.
The premises licence holder and designated premises supervisor, who were present at the time, were spoken to by officers immediately after the offence but within a few hours a 13-year-old and 15-year-old child were admitted to the pub.
Police say there have been a number of incidents including persistently high levels of drunkenness, assaults and several sexual assaults on intoxicated vulnerable females inside the premises.
Other incidents have also occurred where vulnerable, intoxicated females have left the Bulldog and have been assaulted and sexually assaulted elsewhere.