Every Police Force in the UK (of which there are 43 separate ones!) has their own individual approach towards Licensing Compliance. This is evidenced in 43 separate Force Licensing policies. However, their policies have a lot in common, as the overarching UK Government policy is set by the Home Office. What follows are some generalities that apply throughout England and Wales.
- The Police have general Powers of Entry under the Licensing Act 2003. They therefore do not need a warrant in most cases, so don’t insist upon seeing one prior to entry. Your Premises Licence, of itself, gives them the power to inspect your Premises. The Police can also use reasonable force to conduct their enforcement powers. By and large, it is their decision and not yours as to what is, and is not, ‘reasonable’. It is also a criminal offence to obstruct them as they go about their lawful duties. Therefore, work with them, be polite and stay professional. They are there to help you, and you want to keep them on your side. Make sure that your staff and door supervisors are aware of these simple powers of entry, and facts of life, to prevent any embarrassment in future.
- Many city and town centres operate a system whereby the Police Officers in uniform routinely walk through Licensed Premises during the Night Time Economy. This is actually to demonstrate that they police the ‘public space’ and should reassure you and your customers that they are around to help and keep order. Their occasional presence in your premises should therefore not be viewed as a negative, but should be welcomed.
- Police support local Pub Watch Schemes, BID’s and Retail Radio links. Become an active member and participate fully. That way, you will legitimately be shared information and intelligence about members of the public who may cause problems in your venue in real time. This will save you a lot of heartache in the long run.
✅ The Licensing Guys give 10% discount for ‘active’ members of Pub Watch Schemes. ‘Active’ means 75% attendance at Pub Watch meetings over a rolling 12-month period. National Pub Watch contact details are available at the end of this guide. They provide an excellent information and resources, such as videos etc to help you run your Licensed Premises even better.
- If you have a deteriorating situation developing at your premises, do not ignore it and hope that it will go away. Odds on, it most likely won’t. Contact your Local Policing Team Sergeant or your local Police Licensing Officer. If you do not know who these individuals are, find out and get to know them NOW – as it is often better to tell a friend rather than a stranger about your problems.
- Please make sure that incidents are reported to the Police in a timely manner as appropriate. If it is an emergency, it will always be a 999 call. If a more graded response is required, then use 101.
- If a crime occurs within your premises, record it in your Incident Book. Record the time, day date, location, parties involved, their response and your response. This Incident Log report become part of the evidence in dealing, not only in what has happened in your Premises, but also on how you dealt with it.
✅ You can download a templated Incident Log from the TLG Vault for free.
- If a serious crime occurs within your premises e.g. serious assault, sexual assault, glassing or stabbing etc, then preserve as much evidence as possible. Preserve the scene, any weapons, blood stains, glasses used, ask witnesses to remain, preserve the CCTV footage and have it available when the Police ask for it. Remember: Do not touch any evidence, or as little evidence as possible, and do not rearrange any furniture. Do not sweep or mop up a crime scene until the Police say that it is okay for you to do so.
- If you receive a report of drink spiking, try to secure the glass or bottle that the drink is in. Do not discard any contents as it is evidence.
☝️ But remember one thing above everything else: The Police have a vast and varied experience of dealing with all sorts of issues in Licensed Premises, and whatever has happened to you will not be the first or last time that they have dealt with something similar. They are a great source of help and advice. Even if you have a bad experience with one particular officer, ask to speak to their colleague or supervisor instead.
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