Industry figures defend trade over report that claims bartenders routinely serve drunks

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Ethanol, Drinking culture, Alcoholic beverage, England

BBPA: 'In the vast majority of cases pubs are safe and responsible venues where drinks are served in a highly supervised environment by well-trained staff'
BBPA: 'In the vast majority of cases pubs are safe and responsible venues where drinks are served in a highly supervised environment by well-trained staff'
Leading industry figures have defended the pub trade against a report that has claimed that licensees routinely break a law which says they should refuse to serve people who already drunk.

According to a study, actors staggered to the bar at more than 70 pubs, bars and nightclubs in a northern English city and ordered a vodka and coke in a ‘loud, slurred’ voice.

The actors were served 85% of the time – with the success rate rising to 94% on Friday nights and 96% after midnight – often despite the fact that bartenders recognised they were drunk, remarking on it to colleagues or rolling their eyes. The study was conducted by a team at the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Violence Prevention at Liverpool John Moores University.

'Safe and responsible venues'

However, the British Beer & Pub Association has defended the pub trade and said it would be looking at the survey to consider whether it is representative of the trade as a whole.

“In the vast majority of cases pubs are safe and responsible venues where drinks are served in a highly supervised environment by well-trained staff,” it stated.

​As an industry, we provide training and guidance (from the British Institute of Inkeeping) on how to recognise and deal with drunks, including how to explain the law to such customers. 

“Serving drunks has long been illegal and subject to penalties, by both the police, and councils, which can review their licence, for example. Responsible retailers certainly must be aware of their responsibilities.”

Michael Kheng, of Kurnia Licensing Consultants, said there needs to be a clear definition of what constitutes a drunk person and questioned the validity of the study given that actors were used.

'No clear definition'

Speaking to BBC Radio Lincolnshire​ he said: “The problem we have in England is there is no clear definition of what a drunk person is in the Licensing Act 2003, so it is actually hard for people to determine whose drunk and whose not.

“You obviously know when someone has had too much because they can’t stand up and they are falling over, and you know when somebody hasn’t, but when does it go from being sober to being drunk? The law doesn’t help us here.”

He added: “This study used actors so it’s very clear if they’re acting then they weren’t drunk anyway. So all of the 80% of premises that didn’t pass the test -  there was no test to pass because they didn’t actually serve anyone that was drunk.”

He added that there is “no real punishment” in England to deter bartenders from serving somebody that is drunk. He also cited the problem of drinkers pre-loading on cheap alcohol from supermarkets, which he said can make it difficult for bartenders to judge how much a customer has had to drink.

Related topics: Other operators

Related news

Show more

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Subscribe to The Morning Advertiser

The definitive voice for the pub trade

Get the latest news, analysis and insights from the uk pub sector straight to your inbox!

Listen to The MA Podcast