Licence reviews up 19%; fall in revocations

By John Harrington, M&C Report

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: License, Review

Police: under enormous political pressure to deal with the anti-social behaviour
Police: under enormous political pressure to deal with the anti-social behaviour
The number of alcohol licence reviews in the on-trade increased 19% last year, fuelled by a rising number of requests from police. However, despite...

The number of alcohol licence reviews in the on-trade increased 19% last year, fuelled by a rising number of requests from police.

However, despite the increase in reviews, the number of licence revocations actually fell, according to a new survey from legal data compiler Sweet & Maxwell.

The survey found that in the 12 months to 1 April 2010, the 1,334 alcohol licences were reviewed, up from 1,125 licences the previous 12 months.

By comparison, in 2007 just 675 licences were reviewed, meaning the number of reviews has doubled in five years.

The number of reviews initiated by police increased by one third within a year, from 610 in 2009 to 804 in 2010. Last year complaints from police were responsible for 60% of reviews (2009: 55%), while the number of fast-tracked reviews more than doubled, from 75 in 2008/2009 to 152 in 2009/2010.

The big increase in police-requested reviews contrasts to those deriving from local residents, which rose more modestly, from 110 in 2009 to 117 in 2010.

The figures also show that an alleged breach of the crime and disorder licensing objective is by far the most common grounds for review, cited 960 times (72%) in 2010.

However, the number of licences being revoked after a review fell to 151 in 2009/2010 (11% of the total reviewed) from 154 in 2008/2009 (14%).

Police problems

Phil Crier, partner and head of the licensing team at law firm Blake Lapthorn, said: "The police have definitely become more active users of their licensing review powers. It is now common practice for police forces to use these powers particularly when dealing with a busy town centre pub or club.

"Police are under enormous political pressure to deal with the anti-social behaviour and the side effects of binge drinking and they see launching a review as a good way of the concerns being taken seriously.

"Our experience is that the problems the police identify with a premises can normally be sorted out just by talking to the operators of the bar or club and without the need for a licence review. The vast majority of pub and bar operators are more than happy to take on any sensible suggestions from the police.

"Frequently the police use these powers to impose restrictions on a venue rather than to actually remove the premises' licence and shut it down. For example the police might use the review to limit a bar's opening hours.

"Police are increasingly asking premises to install internal CCTV to a higher standard and they can use the licence review as a route to achieving this."

Related topics: Licensing law

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