Thousands of Shoreditch clubgoers have unknowingly had their details passed to police
- Credit: Archant
Thousands of Shoreditch clubgoers have unknowingly had their names sent to police because of a “ridiculous” condition placed on a venue’s licence by Hackney Council.
Anyone who has been to an event with more than 40 people at Studio Spaces E2 in Kingsland Road since January 2014 is affected, the Gazette can reveal.
The bizarre ruling was made by councillors, who imposed a number of conditions when granting director Yuval Hen an alcohol licence for his photography studio, which falls inside the Shoreditch Special Policy Area.
They told him he must make available to police and the town hall a list of everyone attending events of 40 people or more, 48 hours in advance.
The venue, which has no history of crime, was often hired out by private promoters for club nights, but guests were not told their names would be sent to the Met.
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Mr Hen, who has now had to relaunch the venue as a workspace because of the “outrageous restrictions”, this week failed for a third time to get the restrictions changed.
Studio Spaces E2 is the only licensed premises in Hackney that has to pass on guest lists for events, from club nights to birthday parties.
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The condition was one of four imposed by councillors when fashion photographer Mr Hen was granted an alcohol licence for his studio in January 2014.
They were included because Studio Spaces E2 falls inside the Special Policy Area (SPA), brought in by Hackney Council in 2005 to halt the growing number of venues selling alcohol in Shoreditch. Mr Hen was given a limit of 24 events a year for 40 or more people and ordered to make the guest list available to police and the town hall 48 hours in advance of every gathering.
The events were often club nights run by private promoters for up to 200 people, but also included birthday and engagement parties.
Not knowing he was the only licensee having to hand over names, Yuval would simply ask for guest lists and forward them on to the Met. Hackney Council insists it has never requested a guest list, despite creating the condition itself.
That means thousands of people who have attended Studio Spaces in the last two-and-a-half years have had their names given to police without them knowing.
Facebook pages for the events show many people selling their tickets to strangers, while some offered tickets on the door. So what purpose could a list of names possibly serve?
The minutes of the January 2014 meeting don’t detail the reasons for the decision by the sub-committee, chaired by Cllr Wendy Mitchell, who was substituting in the role.
Hackney Council this week told the Gazette the ruling was made to ensure the venue didn’t exceed its limit of permitted 40-plus events. But the Information Commissioner’s Office, which enforces the Data Protection Act, said people’s details should only be shared to stop crime. A spokeswoman for the privacy watchdog added: “People are right to expect that the personal information they give to a company cannot be passed to others without consideration of the law.”
It’s worth pointing out that police made no objection to the alcohol licence application, and the venue has no history of any crime or trouble bar one noise complaint.
On Tuesday, Mr Hen, who has had to relaunch Studio Spaces as a workspace because of the “ridiculous” conditions, had a bid to change them thrown out for a third time. Cllr Emma Plouviez, the committee chairwoman, told the meeting: “I’m very unhappy about licensing an event space we know nothing about. We are being asked to change the licence completely from occasional events to an all-the-time bar.”
Mr Hen said he had applied to increase the permitted number of guests to save his business: “We couldn’t make it work any more. We would have gone bankrupt if we didn’t change the concept. TfL tripled our rent in June to £100,000.
“The conditions killed us. We got lots of cancellations from people saying: ‘We don’t want to give you the guest list.’ It’s a nightmare – we can’t run a business like that with only 40 people allowed inside.
“The government are meant to be supporting businesses and Hackney are going against everything they say. They don’t want more bars in Shoreditch, I get that.”
One of the promoters to hire Studio Spaces was Nappter Tandy, who runs events company Turf Series. He did not know guest lists were being sent to police.
He said: “It’s extremely disappointing councils like Hackney make unreasonable requests of independent venues like Studio Spaces that inevitably can’t be maintained and ultimately force them out of business. One can’t help but feel this is an attempt to force night-time industries out of an area that owes so much to thriving clubs and bars.”