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LOCKDOWN BREACH: Review for Richmond Hotel were an officer was headbutted

LOCKDOWN BREACH: Review for Richmond Hotel were an officer was headbutted

A police officer was headbutted and others had to force their way into rooms as they tackled a mass lockdown breach at a city centre hotel, councillors heard this morning (Monday 1st March).

Officers attending the Richmond Hotel, on Hatton Garden, on January 31 this year were also told door staff “acted like a meet and greet” to people entering the hotel to break lockdown restrictions.

The receptionist on duty told officers that it was “not his responsibility” to enforce coronavirus legislation as gangs of young people partied in the floors above.

A report to the committee previously revealed that officers found the receptionist drunk and said there was “white powder” on the reception desk, while drugs were also found in hotel rooms.

The hotel’s owner, Stephen Hesketh, appeared before members of the council’s licensing committee this morning to defend the hotel’s licence after the incident, which he said was the result of a unique set of circumstances.

Mr Hesketh had previously acknowledged the hotel’s failings and said it had severed ties with employees involved on that night as well as the third party firm it had contracted to carry out security.

Police said in their original incident report, later submitted to the council, that there were between 150 and 200 people at the hotel but Sergeant Craig Carmichael from Merseyside Police said this morning only that the number was “in excess of 50”.

All of the people dealt with by police were under the age of 30, with one being a 17-year-old.

The raid saw a number of arrests, including a woman arrested for breaching coronavirus legislation and for two counts of assaulting a police officer.

A man was also arrested as he was wanted by police in connection with an existing warrant.

Speaking at a Liverpool Council licence review meeting, Sergeant Carmichael said officers were originally contacted at around 8.15pm on January 30 but did not reach the Richmond until 3am due to being needed at other incidents.

They found the receptionist, who said he had no responsibility for enforcing coronavirus regulations, drunk and found groups of youths in corridors and in a number of rooms.

During the incident, which saw some officers at the scene for 90 minutes, police had to chase people down hallways, force entry into rooms and deal with violent behaviour.

At one point, an officer was headbutted by the young woman who was later arrested.

Police seized nitrous oxide cannisters, marijuana and “white powder” believed to be drugs from the premises.

Sergeant Carmichael said: “The incident on the night of the 31st January was sufficient as a standalone incident for the police to bring the premises to review.

“In excess of 50 people attended, with total disrespect for the coronavirus legislation, with no social distancing, no masks and no staying at home.

“There was no management team on duty, leaving a receptionist who does not believe it is his job to prevent these offences and door staff who acted like a meet and greet.”

Despite the severity of the incident, Merseyside Police and the Richmond Hotelhave advocated a series of conditions be put on the hotel’s licence, rather than it being revoked.

The hotel’s owner Stephen Hesketh said a unique series of events had occurred, with the duty manager who would normally be on duty calling in sick.

He said the receptionist and security staff then failed to call for help from either senior management or staff at another hotel across the street which is also under his ownership.

Police investigations found 15 rooms in the hotel, some of which were linked to the incident, were booked at short notice after 7pm on the evening of the incident.

Mr Hesketh said the hotel had suffered extreme financial hardship since the incident was reported and that had meant staff members not involved in the incident had also lost their jobs.

He said: “Lessons have been learnt, and I don’t like to go on but it has been detrimental to the hotel financially in every sense of the word, and the press and the way the story has been taken has been deeply impactful physically.”

He added: “It has been exceptionally stressful. I feel the lessons learnt will be taken exceptionally seriously. You have my word on that.”

The licensing committee’s decision is set to be published in the coming days.

Words: Nick Tyrrell, Local Democracy Reporter


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