O2 Academy Brixton reopens after fatal crush - what 'robust conditions' are in place?

O2 Academy Brixton will open its doors again tonight for the first time since a deadly crush at the venue killed two people 16 months ago.

Security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, were killed when fans without tickets tried to force their way into a show by Nigerian Afrobeat artist Asake on 15 December 2022.

A 21-year-old woman remains in hospital due to injuries sustained in the incident, which is still being investigated by Met Police.

About 1,000 people were outside the venue on the night and police found "large-scale disorder", with crowds eventually pushing the doors open, according to Gerald Gouriet KC, who represented the Met at an earlier licensing meeting.

When the doors were breached, the crowd poured into the lobby towards the auditorium and surged over people who had fallen to the floor.

Tribute acts Nirvana UK and The Smyths will take to the stage tonight after Lambeth Council voted to allow the venue to continue operating following a two-day hearing in September 2023.

That came after the council temporarily suspended the licence a week after the incident.

But the council said the 5,000-capacity venue would have to meet "77 extensive and robust new conditions" in order to do so.

The main conditions

The concert on Friday night, as well as another tribute act the following week, are "test events" Lambeth Council says, and are capped at 50% capacity.

Here are the key conditions the council said the venue has met to protect the public and its staff:

• Install stronger doors
• New crowd management systems
• A new ticketing system
• More detailed risk assessments
• A new centralised control and command centre
• New security and management at the venue

Some of the conditions were originally put forward by the venue owners themselves ahead of the hearing, who said they spent £1.2m on maintenance and improvements in 2023, despite being closed.

The initial decision to close Brixton Academy was supported by the venue's owner, Academy Music Group (AMG), which offered to voluntarily close the site's doors over the suspension period.

Following the ruling, AMG said it was "immensely grateful" to Lambeth Council and looked forward to welcoming fans back.

Ahead of the reopening, Mahamed Hashi, Lambeth Council's cabinet member for community safety, said: "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson who lost their lives, as well as with the person who is still in hospital, and all those suffering the trauma of witnessing such distressing scenes at one of our borough's live music venues."

He added: "The council has worked to ensure that these conditions have now been met, and will continue to monitor safety at the venue.

"There have been regular meetings with the venue to provide the reassurance the council, and ultimately the public, requires. The council will have officers outside and inside premises on Friday evening to check all conditions are being followed.

"An investigation into the tragic events of December 2022, and whether any criminal offences were committed, is being led by the Met Police, with their work continuing.

"Lambeth Council is fully supporting that investigation to help ensure that we never see a tragedy like this in our borough again."

When news broke that the council was considering permanently revoking the venue's licence, a petition to "save" it garnered more than 116,000 supporters. Members of well-known bands, such as Blur and The Chemical Brothers, also voiced their support for it.