A nightclub owner has pledged to keep her customers “safe” by introducing metal detectors and compulsory searches at all of her premises.
Kerrie Katopodis, who runs a string of venues in South Shields, is changing her security policy in the wake of the death of Sunderland teenager Connor Brown.
Connor, 18, lost his life on February 24 after being stabbed following a night out. Two people have since been charged with his murder.
Having worked in the nightlife industry for 20 years, Kerrie has taken the decision to introduce hand-held metal detectors and compulsory searches at her clubs - Club Del Mar, House of Diamonds and Amari Beach Club, all in Ocean Road.
Kerrie, 44, said: “I would be devastated if someone got injured in one of my venues. I need to make a conscious effort to try and not let this happen in my clubs.”
Currently, door staff the clubs do not search everyone as a matter of course - only when there is cause for concern.
Now, each guest will be searched by a member of staff using a hand-held metal detector prior to entry.
Staff training started yesterday ahead of next weekend’s new regulations.
Kerrie said: “Every single person that walks through that door needs to be searched. It might take a little bit longer to get in or out, but it’s for everyone’s benefit.”
The change, Kerrie says, is for the benefit of both customers and staff.
Since the incident which claimed Connor’s life, Kerrie said she has noticed a “nervous edge” in the atmosphere among out for the night.
She also hopes that her heightened security policy will help the police do their job.
She added: “We have a brilliant relationship with the police and we will do anything we can possibly do to help them because it is in our best interests.”
All of Kerrie’s clubs have audio and video CCTV on the doors and her staff are connected to the police via a Pub Watch radio, which allows them to call for assistance immediately if required.
Owning three venues which are next door to each other also enables Kerrie to have a “massive” team of door staff, who can be deployed to whichever venue most needs them on any given night.
Kerrie revealed the devastation she felt along with so many others in the region at Connor’s death.
She added: “It breaks your heart. My son is 20 and that is the first thought that runs through your mind. How would you cope with that?
“It makes you feel like you don’t want to open your doors some days.”
Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt, Area Commander for Sunderland and South Tyneside, has issued assurances there are no issues with knife crime in the area.
She said: “Luckily knife crime is not a common issue in our force area.
“We continue to work alongside door staff, Pub Watch members and businesses to protect the public and keep communities safe.
“We take a very strong stance on knife crime and look at innovative policing tactics and what is seen nationally as best practice, all the while maintaining a robust visible presence in the communities we serve.
“If anyone has any concerns, I encourage them to come and speak to officers.”