Posted: Tuesday, 1 June 2010 @ 10:10
The celebration of the World Cup with promotional events and high spirits is bound to bring out the kill joys. There will be occasions when celebrations are taken to excess, but is it necessary for a doomsday approach by the Home Office? It is rumoured that they are taking a tough position in "guidance notes" issued to police forces, and that pubs face heightened contact from the police during the football tournament.
It is understood that there will be random visits to licensed premises, and a sting programme of test purchases. This will be aimed not just at the on trade but also the off trade. And the police have been advised to demand comprehensive risk assessments from problem premises. I suspect that this will apply to those putting on special events for the tournament, otherwise it is hard to justify such a demand just because the World Cup is taking place.
So be warned. The police will be crawling all over licensed premises, particulary so-called "problem premises", with possible closure notices for breach of conditions, and an emphasis on safer glassware and CCTV systems. Why CCTV systems are seen as an answer to problems is probably more to do with action after the event rather than prevention.
The police will also be monitoring Temporary Event Notices issued for the time of the tournament, but they can only object if they consider that the propsed event will undermine the crime prevention objective in the Licensing Act.
The Home Office has also urged police forces to write to licensed premises advising them of their "expectations", which if not complied with may result in a closure notice or review. It has already been reported that the police have written to Colchester licensed premises doing just that. One of their suggestions is the crazy idea that there are cool down periods when drinks will not be sold, such as when the second half of a match gets under way. I cannot think of a more provocative measure, which will have precisely the opposite effect to the one the police are trying to achieve. It seems a long way from police as law enforcers and not law makers.
I have already blogged twice this year on the police use of closure notices. I strongly advise licensees to carefully consider the conditions of their premises licence and make an extra effort to ensure full compliance. If the CCTV is broken, get it fixed. Are all required notices in place? Do all staff have written authority to sell alcohol on behalf of the DPS? There will be a police onslaught so you need to prepare for battle by making your defences as strong as possible. Carry out risk assessments, and have them available. Take advice on any area of concern. Be aware of the police powers of closure, and other enforcement measures including review. Get advice before hand so you are well prepared, and get advice immediately any problem flares up.
The Wold Cup should be a bumper time for pubs and all licensed premises, but don't let out of controlled fans, the Home Office, and the police, turn the festival into nightmare.
Licensing Law Specialist
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