Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act

What operators need to know about the practical effects of the changes introduced to the Licensing Act 2003

Policeman

Responsible Authorities

Licensing Authorities and Primary Care Trusts / Local Health Boards now fall within the definition of "Responsible Authorities" and can make representations, or bring Reviews of Premises Licences. Licensing Authorities are encouraged to ensure a "degree of separation" of powers, so that the same Licensing Officer who makes a representation or brings a Review is not also responsible for the application itself.

Persons who may make representations

The concept of "vicinity" has disappeared and therefore any person can now either bring a review of a Premises Licence or make a representation to an application. The representation must still be relevant to one of the four licensing objectives and cannot be vexatious or frivolous.

"Reducing the burden"

Licensing Authorities can now make any decision which it determines is "appropriate" as opposed to "necessary".

Therefore, when deciding whether or not to remove or impose a condition on a Premises Licence, the test is very much watered down. Whereas it may not be "necessary" to have door supervisors on duty, it may be "appropriate".

Likewise, on any Review of a Premises Licence, the Licensing Authority only now needs to take steps that are "appropriate" to promote the licensing objectives as opposed to "necessary".

Temporary Event Notices

  • Both the Police and Environmental Health can object to Temporary Event Notices, and both have to be served with the Notice;
  • The Police and Environmental Health can object on any of the licensing objectives and not solely on the ground of crime and disorder;
  • The Police and Environmental Health Officer have three working days instead of two working days to object;
  • Where there is an objection from the Police or Environmental Health Officer, conditions can be imposed on the Temporary Event Notice which "have effect" in respect of the same Premises or any part of the Premises to which the Temporary Event Notice relates

There is some good news however:

  • Temporary Event Notices can now last for up to 7 days rather than 4 days;
  • Temporary Event Notices can cover a period of 21 days rather than 15, although the number of Temporary Event Notices for any Premises remains at 12;
  • It is now possible to apply for "late" Temporary Event Notices by giving between 5 and 9 working days notice, although there is a limit of 10 Late Temporary Event Notices each calendar year for an individual holding a Personal Licence, and 2 for those not. The limit for persons holding a Personal Licence is 50 in total or 5 for those who do not hold a Personal Licence. It should be noted that once the limit on the number of Late Temporary Event Notices has been reached, then no more Temporary Event Notices can be held at all, i.e., once an individual has applied for 10 Late Temporary Event Notices, although they have not reached their limit of 50, it would preclude them from applying for any more
  • If the Environmental Health Officer or Police object to a late TEN that is the end of the application, there is no hearing

Payment of Annual Fees

A Licensing Authority must suspend a Premises Licence if the annual fee is not paid on the due date. There is a grace period of 21 days, if the holder has failed to pay the annual fee due to an administrative error, or the holder of the licence has notified the Licensing Authority that they dispute the liability for the fee. The Licensing Authority must give the holder of the Premises Licence a notice to the effect that the licence is suspended, such suspension to take effect at least 2 working days after the day the Authority gives the Premises Licence Holder the notice.

Underage Sales

There is no limit to a fine for "persistently selling alcohol to children", i.e., two sales within the period of three months, and the period of "voluntary" cessation of alcohol sales agreed with the Police instead of prosecution has increased from a maximum of 2 days to 2 weeks.