INVERNESS nightclub bosses are bidding to stage lap-dancing in the Highlands on a regular basis for the first time – prompting outrage from a women’s group.
The proposal by Hush Nightlife bar and nightclub in Inverness has been opposed by Highland Violence Against Women Strategy Group.
It has raised concerns about the exploitation of women with claims that the activity could increase crime and disorder in the city and prostitution.
Highland Licensing Board will consider the application for an ‘adult entertainment licence’ on Tuesday.
A report to councillors said the nightclub has a trouble-free operating history and a high standard of compliance with licensing rules.
Permissions for the holding of adult entertainment have been granted in the past on one-off occasions but never on a regular basis.
The Highland Violence Against Women Strategy Group said the move would put vulnerable women at greater risk of abuse.
Gillian Gunn, spokeswoman for the group, said: “We believe that granting licenses for events which include ‘Adult Entertainment’ potentially jeopardises the fulfilment of the Licensing Board’s Objectives and its commitment to equality and diversity.
“There is a large body of evidence showing that ‘adult entertainment’ can increase crime and disorder in the areas in which it takes place.”
She added that such entertainment had “links to prostitution”.
Her objection to the board said: “There are additional community safety issues which arise from adult entertainment.
“A number of reports have concluded that where adult entertainment exists, particularly in the form of lap dancing clubs, incidents of sexual violence have increased within those communities as have women’s expressed levels of fear of travelling at night within these areas.
“Therefore, adult entertainment, in any form, has the potential to increase crime and disorder.
“Many women involved in commercial sexual exploitation have experienced sexual abuse as children and/or domestic abuse as adults.
“Most women, who are involved in lap dancing, stripping, etc, are vulnerable and have very few choices in their lives to work and make money.
“Being involved in this industry also increases the likelihood of sexual harassment and sexual humiliation.
“There is growing evidence in Scotland that prostitution is available in many lap dancing clubs too.”
The Highland Violence Against Women Strategy Group includes representatives from the police, NHS Highland, Highland Council, Women’s and Rape and Abuse Line.
A report to councillors by licensing officer Wendy Grosvenor to next week’s meeting said Hush’s application was backed by owners of lap dancing clubs in Aberdeen.
She states: “The proposal is to include adult entertainment as an activity taking place within the premises in full compliance with the stipulated local conditions.
“The Licensing Board must in considering and determining the application, consider whether any grounds of refusal apply and if none of them applies, the board must grant the application.
“The premises have been visited and the applicant states that the range of local conditions pertaining to adult entertainment currently operated by the Highland Licensing Board can be fully met.
“A robust code of conduct document has been compiled inclusive of a register of performers. CCTV of an approved standard is already installed in the public performing areas.
“There are no private booths and the premises operate a strong stewarding presence. No children or young persons are permitted during the periods that adult entertainment is offered.
“An objection to the application has been received from the Highland Violence Against Women Strategy Group, it is the opinion of the Licensing Standards Officer that the licensing objectives would not be adversely affected in the manner described within the objection.”