Published: 19 February 2015
Q: I recently took over the lease of a town centre pub, as DPS and Premise Licence Holder, and I am new to the industry. Having recently obtained my personal licence I know that there is a duty on me not to serve drunken people, but I am concerned about customers coming into my premises, who may have pre-loaded and are intoxicated or drunk. Could you clarify what powers are available to me specifically in relation to ejecting drunken people?
A: I understand your concern and this is a common problem for licence holders across the country. Ejecting or excluding drunk or intoxicated customers has to be handled with skill and care for a variety of reasons, not least the health and safety of the customer and potential licensing implications for your business.
The occupier of licenced premises has a right of requesting any person to leave (so long as not on the grounds of race, gender, religion etc.) and of ejecting the person upon refusal. Reasonable force may be used, although what is reasonable will depend upon the individual circumstances.
Quite apart from this right, the Licensing Act makes specific provision to assist licensees deal with drunken customers who will not leave. It states that a person who is drunk commits an offence if without reasonable excuse (like being disabled or injured) he fails to leave your premises when requested to do so by a Police Constable or other ‘authorised person’. The definition of authorised person would include yourself as Premise Licence Holder/DPS. Although the Licensing Act is silent on the subject, ‘authorised person’ would appear to include registered door supervisors.
Furthermore, in a situation where you require assistance to eject or exclude a customer, you can call upon the assistance of the police (especially if you do not have door staff on duty). In theory the police are under a duty to respond to your request immediately, but in reality in the context of a busy town or city centre this will not always be practicable. It is worth remembering that just because you have door staff on duty does not mean to say that drunken people might not gain access to your premises, so you and your staff will need to remain vigilant.
My advice would be train your staff in dealing with drunk or intoxicated customers and have a clear policy on the subject that is known to staff, door staff and customers alike.
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