Published on August 17th, 2011 | by Dean Carr
Police requests fuel 19% increase in alcohol licence reviews
The number of hospitality businesses having their alcohol licence reviewed has soared by 19 per cent over the past year, fuelled largely by requests from police.
Police requests have driven the number of alcohol licence reviews up 19 per cent
In the 12 months to 1 April 2011 1,334 alcohol licences were reviewed, up from 1,125 in the previous year, according to data collected by legal information provider Sweet Maxwell.
By contrast, just 675 reviews were conducted in 2007, meaning the figure has doubled in five years.
Police requests for licence reviews in the period increased by 32 per cent, from 610 in 2009 to 804 in 2010, accounting for 60 per cent of all reviews for the year.
That’s in contrast to the number of reviews ordered in 2010 by Trading Standards (216, down from 230), Environmental Health (126, down from 150) and local residents (117, up from 110).
The number of ‘fast-tracked’ requests from police, which are intended to tackle crime and disorder associated with premises under the Licensing Act 2003, also increased during the year, from 75 in 2008/09 to 152 in 2009/10, a rise of 103 per cent.
The majority of these requests lay in the North West of England (28 per cent) and London (19 per cent).
However, despite the increase in licence reviews, the number of licences actually revoked fell to 151 (11 per cent of all reviews) from 154 the year before.
Phil Crier, partner and head of the licensing team at law firm Blake Lapthorn, said: “The police have definitely become more active users of their licensing review powers. It is now common practice for police forces to use these powers particularly when dealing with a busy town centre pub or club.
“Police are under enormous political pressure to deal with the anti-social behaviour and the side effects of binge drinking and they see launching a review as a good way of the concerns being taken seriously.
“Our experience is that the problems the police identify with a premises can normally be sorted out just by talking to the operators of the bar or club and without the need for a licence review. The vast majority of pub and bar operators are more than happy to take on any sensible suggestions from the police.
“Frequently the police use these powers to impose restrictions on a venue rather than to actually remove the premises’ licence and shut it down. For example the police might use the review to limit a bar’s opening hours.
“Police are increasingly asking premises to install internal CCTV to a higher standard and they can use the licence review as a route to achieving this.”
A review may only be conducted on the grounds of crime and disorder, for the protection of children, if the business is a public nuisance or poses a risk to public safety.
Crime and disorder is the most common reason for a review, accounting for 72 per cent of all licence reviews in 2009/10.
Source : Big Hospitality