Central licensing does not work well

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Related tags: Security industry authority, Personal licences, License

It is interesting to note that the Security Industry Authority appears to be getting itself in a pickle again over licence renewals, in spite of the...

It is interesting to note that the Security Industry Authority appears to be getting itself in a pickle again over licence renewals, in spite of the fact that it has relatively few personnel to worry about at any one time.

Losing paperwork is something we all do, but in the current climate of Government and quango slip-ups, and their own problems over licensing of illegal immigrants, which has still yet to be fully resolved, it is perhaps unfortunate that complaints are surfacing over the time it take to renew.

This all comes to mind after re-reading something I wrote back in March 2003 about a central registry for licences - alcohol and entertainment, that is. At the time, the House of Lords was in full support of the idea that some central unit could handle parts of the licensing system and take the pressure off local authorities. In fact, once the initial rush was over, personal licences look after themselves in the main, as long as there are no problems over relevant offences and the like.

What I said then was that a single, universally acceptable licence was a good idea, because it could be recognised anywhere, unlike the wide variety of personal licences which have been produced. Each council has its own idea and though there are similarities, there are also major differences in style and content. This for a licence which is meant to be usable throughout England and Wales.

Many holders of personal licences started off under the new Act working in an area which did not grant their personal licence in the first place, and this will continue throughout their careers. Not everyone "lives over the shop" and so the relevance of the granting authority is somewhat obscure. But after 10 years, they will have to revert to their original "home" authority for renewal, because no other authority is currently empowered to issue the renewal for that licence.

It seems we are no nearer having a central registry in any event. It is part of the Licensing Act which has simply been ignored. What it might have done, however, is to compel local authorities to produce better and more complete statistics on licences and conditions, which would have given the Government a better idea of how the Licensing Act had worked out in practice.

Or probably someone would have lost the computer disk...

Related topics: Licensing law

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