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Police ramp up Xmas campaign

By John Harrington , 22-Nov-2007

One in three police basic command units (BCUs) are to take part in the Christmas campaign targeting venues that serve drunks.

The figure is slightly higher than expected and represents about 90 BCUs. The primary focus will be sales to drunks, but disorderly behaviour and underage sales will also be targeted.

The Morning Advertiser understands that each BCU was initially offered £3,000 in extra funding from the Home Office for the campaign.

A joint statement issued by the BII and National Pubwatch says the campaign, which will apply to on and off-trade premises, involves two phases.

As the Morning Advertiser has revealed, the first phase, which began on Monday and runs until 30 November, is designed to concentrate on "awareness raising".

Police and other agencies will visit outlets to give information and answer questions from licensees. "Think before they drink" posters will be available.

The second phase, from 1 to 23 December, will see police targeting perceived "problem premises" and venues where clearly drunken customers are allowed to enter.

Officers will check for underage sales and premises "likely to be associated with criminal or disorderly behaviour".

About 1,300 licensed premises are likely to be visited - less than 1% of the total nationally - in the four weekends leading up to Christmas.

The statement says: "The campaign is geared to targeting poorly managed premises that are thought to be associated with alcohol-related violence, crime and disorder.

"It will focus on enforcing those aspects of the Licensing Act 2003 that cover knowingly selling alcohol to someone who is drunk, obtaining alcohol for someone who is drunk, failure to leave a premises and allowing disorderly conduct on a licensed premise.

"The campaign will also include underage sales. The plain-clothes officers undertaking visits are likely to focus on the offence of 'knowingly' selling alcohol to an intoxicated person."

trade bodies urge Operators to combat complacency

Police would need evidence that a person buying alcohol is "unequivocally" drunk in order for an offence to be committed by the seller, the BII and National Pubwatch advised.

They said a police officer is classified as an expert witness in this respect. Fixed penalty notices of £80 may be issued by a uniformed officer if an offence is committed.

The associations urged the trade not to be complacent during the campaign.

The joint statement said: "The vast majority of our socially responsible members already have robust training and processes in place to prevent and manage these types of incidents. Therefore, although there is no room for complacency, they should have nothing to fear from this campaign.

"However, it may be prudent and an opportune time to remind all staff to always check valid ID if a customer appears underage; always refuse service to any customer who is clearly drunk; and if in doubt bar staff should refer to their supervisor or manager."