Members Clubs and Police Powers

Posted: Thursday, 11 November 2010 @ 13:35
Members Clubs and Police Powers

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Back in January I blogged on the Police powers to close licensed premises. But those powers do not extend to bona fide members clubs who possess a Club Registration Certificate rather than a Premises Licence.

I have just advised a members club. They have a Club Registration Certificate. They held a party a few weeks back. Things got out of hand.They were gate crashed and trouble broke out. The Police were called. The Police told them they must close and not re-open until they had installed a new CCTV system. They installed it but still the Police told them they could not open. 4 days later, after loss of trade, the Police have told them they could open after all. The Police did not serve any notices on the Club.

Strictly the Police do not have power to close a club immediately. So what are the differences for members clubs with Club Registration Certificates and other premises with a Premises Licence?

Premises Licences : the Police can issue a Closure Order under the Licensing Act 2003 where there is or likely to be disorder and the closure is necessary in the interests of public safety, or a public nuisance is being caused by noise coming from the premises and the closure is necessary to prevent it.. It takes effect when given to the appropriate person at the premises. But the closure can only be up to 24 hours, it can be extended to 48 hours in certain circumstances, the Police must then apply to the Magistrates to consider it, and the Licensing Authority have to conduct a Review of the licence.

The other possibility for Premises Licences is a Closure Notice under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001. This is available where there is a sale of alcohol without authority or a breach of  the terms of a  licence. The Notice should set out what you are required to do. You do NOT have to close immediately, but in practical terms the Police may then apply to the Magistrates Court no earlier than 7 days after service of the Notice but only if you have not complied with the terms of the Notice. Depending on the circumstances, it may not be wise to aggravate them. If the breaches are serious it may be in your interests to close until they are corrected. The Police may also take criminal proceedings for any breaches of licensing law or the Premises Licence conditions, or ask for a Review of the Premises Licence. 

These Police powers also apply to licensable activities carried on under a Temporary Event Notice.

Club Premises Certificates: the 2 powers of closure mentioned above do not apply. The power of closure under the Licensing Act only applies to a premises holding a Premises Licence. The power under the Criminal Justice and Police Act only applies where there is a sale of alcohol. In the case of clubs the membership own the alcohol so they cannot sell to themselves. They “supply” to themselves under their Club Premises Certificate. So the Police have no power of closure, but of course they still have the power to seek a Review of your Club Premises Certificate, so a degree of co-operation would be wise. But always seek advice when faced with this situation.

Again, the holders of a Club Premises Certificate are protected against Police spot checks. They only have limited rights to enter club premises. These are set out in Section 97 of the Licensing Act 2003. The police can only enter without permission if a constable has reasonable cause to believe that a drugs offence is being or about to be committed there, or if there is likely to be a breach of the peace there.

The important action to take when faced with a Police request to close is to take advice from an experienced licensing lawyer.

Nigel Musgrove

Licensing Law Specialist

Tel: 01285 847001

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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Thank you. Your response is great, very straight to the point! Hopefully this will bring an end to the matter. I will certainly be recommending your services as I am very impressed with the prompt dealing of this matter.
Janet Burbidge

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