By News Reporters
Local residents were delighted when the police raided and then closed down the Capricorn Club on Goodge Street in November 2009 after arresting seven people. Especially when the police said this had put an end to the prostitution and drug activities going on there.
But now the club has applied to Camden Council for a new licence. And Fitzrovia News can reveal how this same council took no action during at least two years when the club’s sleazy crimes were being highly publicised on television and in national newspapers.
The club’s closure seemed long overdue. Camden Council had renewed its premises licence in 2008, even though:
(1) the police had objected;
(2) a Channel 4 documentary had shown film of one of its reporters being offered sex for £250 at the club;
(3) the Sun newspaper had regularly exposed its activities.
A Fitzrovia resident made a Freedom of Information request to Camden Council whose statutory duty is to monitor and enforce licensing. The Council did not inspect the club once during the two years that it was regularly exposed as a brothel and sex establishment in national newspapers and the Channel 4 documentary.
And just before the police raid the council inspectors visited the club and found no illegal activities. Questions have been asked why the council officials seemed to have turned a blind eye to the well documented activities.
A six month intelligence operation conducted by detectives from the Met’s Clubs and Vice Unit, codenamed Vermillion, revealed that sex was available at £200-£250 within the club itself, and £250-£300 at a nearby hotel.
Cocaine and £2,000 in cash were found in the club and weapons in a car outside.
Detective Inspector John Anderson said: “It’s hard to believe that in the middle of a well known area like Goodge Street, these shady dealings were blatantly going on. This type of criminal activity is a nuisance and a blight on the community who live and work in the area. Now this club has been shut down, the prostitution that went on has ceased and those running the club have lost a lucrative and immoral source of income.”
But the celebrations were premature and short lived. The sign outside the club remains, the lights are switched on, and the door is open each weekday evening.
The same group of minicab drivers park their cars and hang about outside the club waiting for the customers who still turn up, not realising that the club is closed.
The club still features on websites listing venues where “adult” entertainment can be found.
A few weeks ago a Fitzrovia News reporter witnessed one of these minicab drivers acting as a pimp, and take two men to a flat in Charlotte Street which is suspected of being used as a brothel.
The police were informed that the Capricorn Club’s entrance is still being used as a pick up point, but they pointed out that as the minicab drivers were not actually committing any offence they were unable to make any arrests. They were aware that the flat in Charlotte Street was being used as a brothel but took no action.
When the club was shut down it was pretty clear that there were serious criminal activities and big profits behind this operation. The club owners continue their activities outside the premises to keep the business “warm” ready for re-opening.
Now the club have applied for a new premises licence, those who are concerned about it must respond to Camden Council by 15 June.