Fetish clubbers given the boot

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Fetish club members have been kicked out after complaints from "prude" police.

They have been ousted from their venue on Brighton seafront after a woman constable said she found members flashing more than just rubber, leather and whips.

The WPC was caught short while on patrol one night and asked to use the loo at the Volks Tavern club in Madeira Drive on Brighton seafront.

She reported seeing "unusual costumes" and "persons completely naked" when she popped into the basement, where the fetish group was drinking and dancing.

It led to a letter to the Volks licensees from the Brighton and Hove police licensing department warning their licence and entertainment licence were in jeopardy unless they maintained good order and decent behaviour.

Roger James, who runs the Endorphine Visions fetish nights, denied anyone was naked on the night but said all clubs were now frightened of booking fetish nights in case they lose their licences.

He said the Volks operated a strict door policy and only people appropriately dressed were allowed in.

He said: "We live in a very diverse and cosmopolitan city, perhaps more so than anywhere else in the UK, and a night where like-minded adults meet and wear unusual costumes is surely not an offence against any law."

Jason Papanicola, a Volks Tavern licensee, said he was unhappy he could no longer host fetish nights but he had to protect his licence.

He he had escorted the WPC to the toilets and not seen anyone naked.

He said: "The fetish nights have been coming here for three years and there have never been any complaints. It is a great shame."

The licensing department said it was not persecuting or trying to close fetish nights but it had a legal duty to investigate complaints.

Senior licensing officer Kareen Plympton said: "We have told the licensees their club must conform to the law and behaviour inside must be appropriate."

Fetish club members, meanwhile, are angry.

Julie Greenfield, 28, who runs Punktured body piercing in North Road, Brighton, has sponsored some of the nights and is a member.

She said: "More than 100 people have attended some nights and there have never been any problems.

"People just dance, have a drink, meet other people and have fun."

Publican Julie Mars, 21, said: "It's sad and pathetic. If people don't like people dressed in fetish clothes, they don't have to go along."

Her partner J Hunter, 27 and a body piercer, said: "We are all grown up adults and enjoy the same interest. It is ridiculous."

Superintendent Peter Coll, second in command of Brighton and Hove police, said officers had not set out to cause offence.

He said: "But we are duty-bound to act upon complaints. Having said that, Brighton and Hove is a cosmopolitan city and clearly we want our policies to reflect an open-minded approach.

"I don't want the public to get the wrong impression that we are dedicating too much time on such matters.

"Tackling and reducing all serious, violent, domestic and vehicle crime remains our priority."