Posted: Thursday, 24 February 2011 @ 14:45
Back in August 2009 I blogged on the thorny issue of confiscation of false or forged identication documents. I said that although confiscation was widespread, the legality was far from clear. My view was that no one but the Police had the right to confiscate identity documents, but in practice it would not make a difference as no one was likely to complain if door staff or management of premises selling alcohol confiscated the ID and handed it to the Police.
Yesterday the Home Office published their FALSE ID Guidance. It can be seen on their website at:
It seeks to offer best practice guidance on identification evidence, where it is required to prevent under age sales of alcohol, consumption by under age persons of alcohol on licensed premises, and in certain cases the admission to premises.
The Home Office consulted the Police, the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS), the Security Industry Authority (SIA), the National Union of Students (NUS), and people from the alcohol industry.
Their conclusion on confiscation of ID, having taken legal advice, is that it is not illegal in the sense that a crime is being committed. It is not theft as there is no intention to pemanently deprive the owner of the documents. As far as the criminal law is concerned that is right, but in terms of the civil law no one has the right to seize personal possessions belonging to another unless the law specifically allows it. But as I said in my previous blog, if someone hands over ID evidence, and it is then seized, there is little that can be done about it provided that those who seized it either return it within say a few days or hand it over to the Police.
The Home Office Guide is a best practice guide. It is not compulsory, and you may already have in place appropriate policies and procedures. But it is my view that it is compulsory reading for all door staff, management, and Police. It sets out all the statutory regulations regarding false ID, and gives examples of acceptable forms of ID. It also gives examples of commonly used counterfeit ID.
It is an excellent guide. It has sections on advice to door staff and to premises as well as to the Police. There are accompanying Home Office False ID posters to display in premises, and an example of a bailment form to be used when ID is confiscated.
Remember that it is now a mandatory condition on every premises licence authorising the sale of alcohol to have in place a written policy dealing with the prevention of sale of alcohol to under age persons. The minimum standard is to challenge those believed to be under 18 ,but of course your Premises Licence may already have conditions regarding your procedures with a higher standard, such as Chellenge 21 or 25. Whatever the situation, you must have a written policy, and it would be a good idea to take on board this Home Office Guide and include it's recommendations of best practice into your writtemn policy.
For advice on this please contact:
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
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