As an operator of licensed premises you may be well used to the Licensing Authority carrying out inspections. Good practice and management is invaluable in ensuring you are always prepared. Here are some tips to help you understand what they will be on the lookout for and how you can ensure you sail through.
- Make sure your premises licence, or a certified copy of it, is kept on site and available for the inspection. The premises licence summary should be prominently displayed, along with any relevant authorisations and notices, such as a nomination notice detailing who at the premises has custody or control of the premises licence. Make sure the notices are signed by the right people and that your bar staff authorisation actually authorises all the people it needs to.
- You and your staff should be familiar with your premises licence permissions and conditions. You may also be asked to demonstrate how you ensure compliance with the conditions. For example, if you have to shut all your windows after 9pm make sure everyone knows this. The enforcement officer may ask what checks you have in place to make sure it happens. Don’t forget the mandatory conditions. For example, you should have an age verification policy and there are specific requirements in respect of smaller measures. If you do have drinks promotions, the inspector might want to understand more about what you do and how they are managed so be prepared to explain these.
- The enforcement officer may compare the layout of the premises to the licence plan. Remember, it is a breach of your premises licence to carry out licensable activities when the layout of the premises does not match the approved licensing drawing in key respects – see our Top Tips from 25 June for more information on what the plans should show.
- If your premises licence conditions make reference to other documents, for example a noise management policy, you should ensure that you are complying with the condition and in some circumstances you may be required to produce them for inspection.
- Check your CCTV complies with any conditions and is in good working order. The enforcement officer may want to ensure it is maintained properly and understand your procedure to download images when required.
- Although the enforcement officer may not be checking food or health and safety issues, if they do spot anything that causes them concern they may refer this on to a relevant officer who will conduct their own investigation.
- The enforcement officer will want to know about your staff training procedures and you should ensure you can clearly explain how you train your staff in issues such as licensing law, preventing underage sales and preventing sales to people who are drunk. It is good practice to keep good records of your staff training (and may even be a condition of your licence) and you should ensure these are available if necessary.
- If you have any other licences, such as pavement licences or special treatments licences, make sure these are all up to date and being complied with.
- The premises should be clean, tidy and all escape routes should be kept clear.
This list is non-exhaustive and the council may have their own policy explaining more about how they undertake licensing inspections.
If a licensing enforcement officer finds a breach of the premises licence, they may give you a verbal or written warning. However, they do have the power to issue a closure notice (which can require you to close if a breach is not remedied), take your premises licence to review or even consider prosecution. You should ensure you have your house in order and if you have any concerns, take legal advice.