Alcohol code fines 'absolutely ludicrous'

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Tap water, Prison, Sentence, Nick bish

Staff not handing over free water could be jailed
Staff not handing over free water could be jailed
Sending someone to jail for six months for failing to hand over a free glass of tap water in a pub is "absolutely ludicrous", say trade leaders.

Sending someone to jail for six months for failing to hand over a free glass of tap water in a pub is "absolutely ludicrous".

Noctis executive director Paul Smith slammed the punishments — £20,000 fine or six months in jail — for breaching the mandatory code on alcohol as "completely out of kilter" (Compulsory ID checks in alcohol code​).

He said: "The problem is that this affects even responsible licensees. To hand out a six-month jail sentence for refusing a free glass of tap water is absolutely ludicrous.

"Surely a stern word from the local licensing officer would be better."

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Nick Bish also voiced concern over criminalising mistakes made by hard working responsible licensees and staff.

"As an extreme example, if you took the student who was working part time in a bar and who refused to give over a free glass of tap water or did not check the ID of someone who was 18 but looked under-18.

"Would he be left with a criminal record, meaning he couldn't be a teacher or a doctor? It seems to be overkill."

Supermarkets

Bish said the industry welcomed the crackdown on irresponsible promotions but believes the Government may have trouble defining exactly what constitutes an irresponsible promotion.

"I think we would all welcome the end of the silly deals," said Bish. "They are usually an act of commercial desperation rather than good marketing sense.

"And I think the dentist's chair is an urban myth."

But Bish did hit out at the lack of targeting of cheap supermarket deals. "There seems to be nothing against the below cost selling of the supermarkets, which is to be deplored."

Noctis executive director Paul Smith agreed the code could have been worse, especially if the ability for councils to set their own conditions had been included.

"We could have had situations like Oldham (Back door minimum pricing in Oldham​) cropping up all over," he said.

"A lot of it in the code is just good practice. Some of my members may be upset by the ban on certain promotions as it means they are less competitive with the supermarkets.

"The code is still on-trade focused and that is disappointing as clearly there are issues with the off-trade."

Related topics: Legislation

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