Published: 10 February 2020
Local Magistrates are empowered to make an order requiring all premises within a specific area, which is experiencing disorder or where disorder is anticipated, to close until such time as they are satisfied that it is no longer necessary to prevent disorder.
The application for the order must come from a police officer of the rank of Superintendent or above. A police constable will serve the order on the premises in question and may use necessary force to ensure that the premises are closed.
The period of the order is up to 24 hours and the burden of proof will be on the police on the balance of probabilities to demonstrate that it is necessary. They should balance their awareness of the loss of business which it will cause against the necessity for the order and if possible should seek a voluntary agreement with operators in the area prior to using this power.
Any of the following people will be guilty of an offence if they knowingly allow the premises to remain open when such an order is in force:
The power does not apply to premises with the benefit of a Club Premises Certificate
A Police Officer of the rank of Inspector or above, or the Local Authority, can issue a Closure Notice if satisfied on reasonable grounds that:
and that the notice is necessary to prevent the nuisance or disorder from continuing, recurring or occurring.
The Closure Notice can last for a maximum duration of 48 hours, and can exclude all persons from the premises at all times, except for any exceptions stated in the notice, but the notice cannot prohibit access by people who habitually live on the premises nor the owner of the premises.
The Closure Notice has to identify the premises, explain the effect of the notice, the consequences of failing to comply with the notice, that an application will be made for a Closure Order, where and when the application would be heard and explain the effect of the Closure Order.
The Closure Notice can only be issued if reasonable efforts have been made to inform people who live on the premises, or any other person who has control of, or responsibility for the premises, or who has an interest in them. The procedure is therefore stringent for the Police or Local Authority to go through before issuing the notice.
The Police or the Local Authority can cancel a Closure Notice where it feels that the requirements specified in paragraph 15.1 (a) above are no longer satisfied, upon which the Police or Local Authority must issue a Cancellation Notice (if it is cancelled completely), or a Variation Notice (if part of the premises is removed from the notice).
Unless a Closure Notice has been cancelled, then the Police or Local Authority must apply to the Magistrate’s Court for a Closure Order, and the application must be heard not later than 48 hours after the service of the Closure Notice.
The Magistrates’ Court may make a Closure Order if it is satisfied:
That a person has engaged, or is likely to engage in disorderly, offensive or criminal behaviour on the premises; or
That the use of the premises has resulted, or is likely to result in serious nuisance to members of the public; or
That there has been, or is likely to be disorder, near those premises, associated with the use of the premises;
and that the order is necessary to prevent the behaviour, nuisance or disorder from continuing, recurring or occurring.
The Closure Order can last for up to 3 months and, again, like a Closure Notice, can prohibit access by all persons at all times, other than in specified exceptions.
Alternatively a Magistrates’ Court can order that a Closure Notice continues in force for a further specified period of not more than 48 hours or, alternatively, can adjourn the hearing of an application for a Closure Order for up to 14 days to enable the occupier of the premises, persons with control or responsibility of the premises or any interest in the premises, to show why a Closure Order should not be made and, in the meantime, pending the adjourned hearing being heard, it may order the Closure Notice continues until the adjournment.
At any time before a Closure Order expires, an application can be made by the Police or Local Authority to extend the Closure Order if the criteria in paragraph 15 (a) above continue to apply, when the person on whom the Closure Notice was served, or any other person appearing to have an interest in the premises, may be required to attend before the Court by way of a summons. Upon any hearing of the Closure Order, it can be extended but the Closure Order cannot last for a total of more than 6 months.
At any time before the expiry of the Closure Order, an application can be made by the Police, Local Authority, the person on whom the Closure Notice was served, or anyone else with an interest in the premises to have the Closure Order discharged. Upon hearing the application for the discharge, the Magistrates’ Court can discharge the order if satisfied that the order is no longer necessary to prevent the occurrence, recurrence or continuation of disorderly, offensive or criminal behaviour on the premises, serious nuisance to members of the public resulting from the use of the premises, or disorder near the premises associated with the use of the premises.
An appeal can be brought against the decision to make or extend the Closure Order by any person on whom the notice was served, anyone with an interest in the premises, the Police or the Local Authority by appealing to the Crown Court within 21 days from the date of the decision in the Magistrates’ Court.
A person who, without reasonable excuse, breaches a Closure Notice is liable to a fine, or imprisonment for up to 3 months or both, and any person who, without reasonable excuse, breaches a Closure Order is liable to a period of imprisonment not exceeding 51 weeks, or a fine, or both.
Any person who claims to have incurred financial loss as a consequence of a Closure Notice or Closure Order may apply to the Magistrates’ Court for compensation, or to the Crown Court if it made the Closure Order on appeal. Any application for compensation has to be made within 3 months of the date the Closure Order was cancelled, refused or it ceased to have effect (the 3 month period for refusal runs from the date the Magistrate’s Court refuse it, or the Crown Court refuse the application if appealed).
Following the making of a Closure Order, either by the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court, the Licensing Authority must complete a review of the Premises Licence within 28 days of such order.
If premises are closed voluntarily without the need for a Closure Order, then a review will not necessarily follow.
If you get any of the above activity at your premises contact us without delay. We have various solicitors available out of hours so telephone 0115 958 3500 or 03337 007 999
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