Police pub clampdown is ‘abuse’

By Graham Ridout

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Crime License

Police: concerns over approach to licensees
Police: concerns over approach to licensees
Licensees are being threatened with arrest and pubs with closure in a clampdown by police forces across the country, which has been labelled “an abuse”.

BigHospitality sister publication The Publican’s Morning Advertiser (PMA) has been told of six incidents where officers from West Yorkshire police have told the licensees to stop serving alcohol on busy Saturday nights or face being arrested.

It is thought the push is part of a Home Office initiative, the Alcohol Support Visits programme, where civil servants hold training sessions with police and licensing authorities on licensing law and then accompany the police on a practical demonstration by visiting licensed venues.

Peter Coulson, PMA’s legal columnist, said police do not have the power to instantaneously ask for the serving of alcohol to be stopped or order the closure of premises.

He added: “This is a major issue facing the industry. In my view, it is an abuse of the law and I am not alone in thinking that.

“If the police give the suggestion that someone will be arrested, they are completely out of line.

“There is plenty of opportunity elsewhere (other than the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001) for the police to use their closure powers in cases that warrant it. These are excuses for taking action, and the damaging effect on the commercial viability of the licence is disproportionate to the perceived breach of the law.”

Trip up the operator

Michael Kheng, director of consultancy and pub chain Kurnia Group, is representing the two licensees involved in West Yorkshire.

He said one venue was subjected to five separate visits and each time the licensee/designated premises supervisor was threatened with arrest under Section 19 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act.

Kheng said: “This is not a partnership approach, otherwise the police would have told the licensee of all five (infringements).”

He said the police visits were not conducted on a quiet Monday or Tuesday afternoon, but seemed to be timed to cause the maximum impact on trade and “trip up the operator”.

He said one of the infringements was not having a female door supervisor even though the premises licence only specified that the operator should use its “best endeavour to employ a female door supervisor”.

No comment

Other cases involved people dancing in non-designated areas, and only turning on the CCTV recording equipment when the premises was occupied whereas the premises licence called for continuous 24-hour recording.

West Yorkshire Police said it would not be appropriate to comment as the cases were subject to a number of proceedings. However, it did stress that the action was taken because of major breaches not minor infringements of the premises licence and involved very serious incidents.

Graham Ridout is a contributor for BigHospitality's sister publication The Publican's Morning Advertiser​ .

• Have you been targeted by police or threatened with closure or arrest? Email Michelle.Perrett@william-reed.co.uk​.

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