A string of city centre bars that were shut down after an investigation into Diamond Strip cocaine dealing are set to have their licence reviewed again after further reports of drug use have emerged.

Collingwood Street nightspots House of Smith, Floritas and Madame Koo were all dramatically forced to close their doors over the busy Christmas and New Year period in 2017, along with nightclub The Empress.

The bars were hit with closure orders after it emerged staff and promoters were involved in the supply of Class A drugs across the city.

The investigation - Operation Doncaster - ultimately saw 20 people, including doormen, promoters, a bar manager and drug dealers, jailed for a total of more than 50 years last year.

Now two years after the initial closure orders, Northumbria Police have asked Newcastle City Council to review the licence of the Apartment Group, which manages bars including House of Smith, Madame Koo and Floritas.

Following the closure order, the licence held by the management company was reviewed by the council's licensing sub-committee.

The bars kept their licence after they presented evidence that they were working to "put preventative measures in place".

But now city centre cops are applying to the council to review the Apartment Group’s licence again – after reports of further drug use at House of Smith.

In an application submitted to the licensing sub-committee, the force refers to incidents of drug use at the premises including a report that a staff member was involved in the supply of drugs.

The staff member was investigated and later received a caution for possession of a Class A drug.

Police have expressed concern about the use of drugs by other staff members and patrons on the premises, and the failure of staff to report it.

And they have also referenced a "lewd and sexualised" promotional sign that was used during a Fresher’s Week event earlier this year. 

The application for review was submitted on Wednesday and any interested parties will be able to consider and submit a representation to the Licensing Authority during a 28 consultation period.

A licensing review hearing will be listed following the 28 day consultation period.

Chief Inspector Steve Wykes, who oversees policing in Newcastle city centre, says the Force was “left with little choice” but to request a review.

House of Smith, Madame Koo and Floritas have been ordered to close for a month
House of Smith, Madame Koo and Floritas were ordered to close for a month

He said: “We are very disappointed that we are in this position considering all the work that we have done to engage with licensed premises as part of Operation Doncaster.

“That investigation sent a strong message to businesses across the city that they needed to work with us to drive drug use and criminal activity out of the city centre.

“At previous licensing hearings the Apartment Group had made submissions that they were committed to working with partners to safeguard visitors to Newcastle City Centre.

“But we have found evidence that suggests they have failed in this duty and we have been left with little choice but to take this course of action.

“I want to be clear that the vast majority of businesses in the city centre continue to work well with police and key partners to safeguard those who enjoy the night-time economy in Newcastle.

“We have a duty to keep the public safe and will take this course of action if we feel it is necessary and proportionate.”

A Newcastle City Council spokesman said: “We have received an application from Northumbria Police to review the premises licence for the Apartment Group trading as House of Smith, Madame Koo and Floritas.

“There will be a 28-day consultation period and the application will go before the licensing sub-committee for them to consider what action, if any, is required in respect of the premises licence.”

Operation Doncaster was launched in summer 2017 and resulted in 20 drug dealers being sent to prison for a total of more than 50 years.