'Blitz on drunks' fear

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Licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen have warned that the next Home Office blitz may target licensees serving drunks. The Home Office cancelled its...

Licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen have warned that the next Home Office blitz may target licensees serving drunks.

The Home Office cancelled its funding for test purchasing last Christmas, but many police forces and trading standards teams have continued to carry them out.

There is a growing fear that the next big campaign will target the issue of drunkenness. Police forces in some areas of the country, including Glasgow, have already carried out undercover operations in a bid to clamp down on staff serving drunks.

"The difficulty is the subjective determination of what 'drunk' means," said Poppleston Allen's Graeme Cushion. "(Police) simply install themselves in licensed premises and observe. They will only have to form the view that an individual or individuals have glazed eyes, slurred speech and are unsteady on their feet, and there will be little that the operator can do to challenge their assertion."

Heat is on for Licence reviews

Licence reviews are "hotting up" as police get used to the new regime, according to Poppleston Allen solicitor Jeremy Allen. He said there were about 600 reviews in the first year of the new Act, which went live in November 2005.

"Our impression is that it's hotted up after the first year, probably as a result of police taking more action. In the first year there was a certain fear of procedures - now they realise it's not that difficult."

Allen cited Nottingham as a place where police are actively pursuing licences. He outlined his view at the National Pubwatch conference in Coventry this week.

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