Car park violence sparks action

Better lighting and surveillance equipment is being installed in the car park that services Next Level nightclub and Triple Crown pub in an effort to combat the increasing number of violent incidents in that area.

Christian Sorensen, who holds the liquor licence for Next Level and Aqua Beach bar on West Bay Road, said he had increased security and lighting outside his two premises and had met with owners of neighbouring Triple Crown to discuss installing better lighting in the area behind the pub.

‘About two months ago, we stepped up the lighting and put in spotlights outside Next Level,’ he said. ‘The Triple Crown car park only has a few lights; it’s fairly dark.

‘Between the Triple Crown and Pizza Hut, it’s really dark. We see youths who are too young to get in anywhere hanging around there. I thought it was time we talked to the neighbours to see if they would do something with the parking lot,’ Mr. Sorensen said.

Signs have been erected announcing that CCTV cameras have been installed in the car park.

The security measures come after number of attacks and assaults have occurred in the car park in recent months.

In the latest assault, a 24-year-old Swiss tourist told police he was attacked with a baseball bat by two men. He suffered two broken arms and other injuries in the 24 February attack. On 19 January, a man was robbed and beaten in the car park between the Marquee and Triple Crown shortly after midnight. Two men have been charged in connection to the latter.

The issue of the incidents of violence in the car parks arose during a Liquor Licensing Board meeting on Thursday, 5 March.

In the meeting, the board heard from Mr. Sorenson concerning a request by Aqua Beach to extend its licence to serve alcohol and play music until 2am on Fridays to help it claw back business from The Wharf which is open until 2am on two Fridays a month. The board agreed to extend the opening hours at the bar to 1.30am.

Mr. Sorensen said Titan Security had been employed to step up security at Aqua Beach and Next Level, and security guards patrol the exterior of the premises and the car parks. He said a security guard was also permanently stationed at the corner of the parking lot.

The board, chaired by Mitchell Welds, sought an update on the incidents of violence seen at or in the vicinity of Next Level and Aqua Beach.

Matthew Leslie, managing director of Titan Security, presented a list of incidents to which police were called since December. These included fights, dealing with intoxicated customers, threats to security guards, and a man slapping his girlfriend outside the club.

He also gave details of the stabbing of one of his security guards at the door of the club. A man has been charged with that offence.

Mr. Sorensen said police had been asked to step up patrols, and in recent weekends police had parked at the club, especially around closing time, which had cut down on people loitering in the area.

He added that on Friday nights, up to 2,000 people converged on the area.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has a ‘Hot Spot’ team which targets drug- and alcohol-related crimes. It visits licensed premises, and club owners who appeared before the board on Thursday said the team had a deterrent effect on trouble-makers.

Nightclub concerns

The application by Aqua Beach to extend its closing time led to the manager of Next Level nightclub, Harry Lalli, to address the board about his concerns that as more bars are given extensions to their opening hours, nightclubs were suffering.

He said nightclubs had more specific security requirements, including supplying one security guard per 75 customers and no-one aged under 15 allowed on the premises.

The clubs agreed years ago to close during the day, so that they could remain open later in the evening. ‘That seems to have worked out well,’ said Mr. Lalli. ‘Now bars want to be nightclubs.’

He added: ‘On Friday nights, if we have bars open until 2am, then that makes it even more difficult for nightclubs. Quite a few bars have extensions on Fridays; that makes it difficult for the clubs to be viable businesses.

‘In that case, would the board give nightclubs [extensions] till 3am? That is what it has come down to.’

Probations lifted

There are four nightclubs currently operating in Grand Cayman.

Two of those clubs, Peppers Lounge and LI Lounge (previously Matrix) had both been placed under probation following violent incidents at the clubs. The LLB lifted the probations of both premises Thursday following appeals made by proprietors of the establishments to the board.

The board also granted an application from Al La Kebab’s Alan Silverman to swap his liquor licence for a mobile liquor licence so it could offer bar as part of its catering services. The board ruled that the kebab restaurant must cease selling alcohol at its Marquee location.

Caption

Camera surveillance signs

Photo: Norma Connolly

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