Confiscation of ID

Posted: Wednesday, 26 August 2009 @ 14:48

Under 18s are canny at using all means to try and buy alcohol. Often this involves fake or borrowed identification documents such as passports and driving licences.

Many pub and other retail outlets are adpting a policy of confiscation of ID and sending it to the relevant authority such as the Passport Office or DVLA. Some Police forces positively encourage confiscation and have a procedure for dealing with the ID. This is proving an effective deterrent where used, as word quickly gets around the teenagers.

But this is a very dodgy practice for operators.  A Conservative MP has written to the Home Office for clarification, but the answer is quite simple. Licensees their staff and door staff have no right to confiscate items against a person's will. Only the Police and other authorities have that right.

So how does this work at all?  A choice can be given to the offending person. Either the Police will be called or they can give permission themselves for the item to be taken. The problem here is that with borrowed items they cannot give permission on behalf of the true owner. So if 22 year old Tracey has given her Passport to her 17 year old sister Mandy to use to buy alcohol, she is unlikely have given permission to Mandy to give the ID to someone else. So there is no right for anyone but the Police to confiscate the ID. The Police would have the right to take it as evidence, and to return it, or use it in a prosecution of Mandy for the offence of trying to buy alcohol whilst under age. They could also prosecute Tracey if she has sent Mandy to buy alcohol for her.

So Premises Licence holders, Designated Premises Supervisors, Personal Licence Holders and Door Staff and any staff at the venue have no legal right to confiscate ID, or anything else. But I am sure that in practice they will continue to confiscate as the true owners in the case of borrowed items are hardly likely to take action against them.

For advice on licensing law and other issues affecting licensed premises please contact me.

Nigel Musgrove

Licensing Law Specialist

Blog by Nigel Musgrove
Nigel has been providing dispute resolution advice as a solicitor for over 35 years. As well as advising SMEs and business owners on disputes he also offers a specialist licensing law service. View profile
Call Nigel on +44 (0)1285 847 001 or by email
This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.

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