Police report slams Sunderland nightspot Banana Jo’s

Banana Jo's, Vine Place, Sunderland
Banana Jo's, Vine Place, Sunderland
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TWO teenage girls who were reported missing from home were found boozing in a trouble-hit Sunderland nightspot.

The incident is just one of a number of problems highlighted by police investigating Banana Jo’s.

Other issues raised in the Northumbria Police report include fighting, underage drinking and even under-18s serving behind the bar.

The report, to be discussed by Sunderland City Council licensing committee members next week, lists 32 incidents in just five months.

Police found the teens, aged 14 and 15, reported missing by Newcastle’s children’s services, drinking inside the Vine Place venue.

Other incidents included officers called out due to teenage girls fighting, a 17-year-old being head butted and staff being attacked.

Police are now asking for measures to be introduced to help cut crime and mismanagement at the bar.

They are calling for the designated premises supervisor (DPS) to be removed, safety measures to be tightened up and staff training carried out.

A statement from Northumbria Police, due to be heard by councillors at the licensing sub-committee meeting at the civic centre, said: “This premises has come to the attention of police due to incidents of crime and disorder, and also incidents involving persons under the age of 18 years.

“Between January and May, there have been 26 incidents recorded at the premises.

“Most of the incidents involve altercations in the premises.

“In all incidents the persons involved were intoxicated, with many being arrested for drunk and disorderly.”

The rise in the number of incidents involving underage drinkers led to police carrying out a joint test purchase operation with trading standards.

Two 16-year-old girls were able to get past the doorstaff, and ordered two cans of strawberry cider once inside.

The DPS, David Ridley, was working at the time.

He was hit with a fine and warning.

Since then, there have been a further six incidents involving under 18s, including the two missing teens being found in the bar at almost 3am, 16-year-old girls fighting and a 16-year-old arrested for drunk and disorderly.

Concerns have also been raised about the lack of training at the bar, poor CCTV coverage, failure to report violent crimes and staff being paid cash in hand without contracts.

During a visit to the premises, some staff serving alcohol were found to be under-18 and carrying out their duties unsupervised.

Officers claim they have made several attempts to contact the DPS and have sent two letters to set up meetings, which have been ignored.

The review will be heard by the licensing sub-committee next Wednesday.

No one from Banana Jo’s was available to comment.

Twitter: @sunechochief