Full closure orders granted to police for a boxing club and gym last month are to remain in place, after the failure of an appeal to have them partially lifted.

A district judge imposed the three-month orders, applying to both Birtley Boxing Club and the nearby Birtley Gym and Fitness Centre, after a court hearing on October 12.

It followed an application brought by Northumbria Police, heard at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court.

The force suspects both venues have been linked to drug-dealing and other criminal activity and applied for the closure orders while inquiries continued.

The Northern Echo: Closure orders were granted last month for Birtley Gym and Fitness Centre, left, and Birtley Boxing

It followed the execution of warrants by Gateshead Neighbourhood Police Team on the boxing club, in Beaconsfield Road, and the gym and fitness centre, in Durham Road, on September 20.

Those raids led to the discovery of drugs and weapons at the boxing club, while quantities of drugs and thousands of pounds in cash were said to have been found at the gym and fitness centre.

The hearing was told officers had received reports of various incidents relating to both sites, including suspected drug-dealing, violent disorder, in a suspected “punishment beating”, and criminal damage.

An appeal was made at Newcastle Crown Court on Friday (November 10) to vary the closure orders on behalf of both venues.

Jane Foley, responding to the appeal on behalf of Northumbria Police Authority, said the closure orders were brought with the support of the local authority (Gateshead Council) to prevent nuisance, disorder and criminal behaviour.

She said investigations into the alleged criminal activity at both venues are ongoing.

Helen Towers, making the appeal for the appellants, said the orders, preventing all use of both centres, was unfairly penalising the people of Birtley, as they are well used community facilities, which have honed young boxers to Olympic and professional levels.

She sought to have the orders varied to allow their use by all females, plus males up to the age of 25, and more than 60, as all those under inquiry by police are men in the 26 to 60 age bracket.

Relating to the fitness centre, she said: “It’s a functioning gym and precluding the troublemakers from attending would not impact on the wider community.

“I accept the closure orders can be tailored to make them more open than closed but targeting the mischief.”

Judge Sarah Mallet, sitting with two magistrates, dismissed the appeal, however, saying: “We have no hesitation in stating that the full closure order is necessary, and no partial closure order would suffice.”

She said the full closure order is needed to prevent “nuisance occurring or recurring”.

Judge Mallett said: “We have come to the conclusion there is no working alternative to a full closure order and that the criteria has been met to prevent nuisance and disturbance.”

Having dismissed the appeal, Judge Mallett made a £600 costs order for the hearing, to be paid by those running the gym and boxing club within 28 days.

Anyone found to be in breach of the orders faces arrest and a possible jail term.

When the orders were put in place, last month, a Northumbria force spokesperson said: “We are pleased that closure orders have now been granted against these two venues.

“We will continue to closely monitor the area and, should anyone breach the orders by re-opening either of the venues, they will face criminal repercussions and potential time behind bars.

“Our hope is that these orders act as a deterrent to others because, when we do receive reports linked to suspected criminality, we will take action.

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“By working with the community and partners, we can continue to ensure this area remains a safe and pleasant place to live and work.”  

The spokesperson added: “Under the banner of Operation Sentinel, we are committed to tackling suspected serious and organised crime in order to protect our communities.

“We would encourage anyone with information about such activity to come forward and contact us.”