ACPO licensing chair urges police to work with pubs

By James Wallin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags License Police

Jean Irving, co-chair of the ACPO licensing group
Jean Irving, co-chair of the ACPO licensing group
The police should work with publicans to resolve issues rather than seeking to close down venues, a senior licencing official has said.

Jean Irving, co-chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) licensing group, also told the PMA she wanted to see ID scanners in all ‘relevant’ venues and accused some pubcos of not supporting their tenants.

Irving was speaking after the first ACPO licensing practitioners conference – which brings together forces from across the country to discuss their methods.

Irving, who is licensing and public safety manager for Sussex Police, said methods vary across the county but that the conference had discussed the merits of the ‘stepped approach’.

She said: “Our job is not to close pubs down or stop anyone having a good time. It’s about keeping people safe. The best way to do that is to work with the licensee. A licence review should never be a surprise because there should have been contact all the way up to that point.”


Irving said the conference, held at the College of Policing in Ryton near Coventry, highlighted the disparity in how forces across the country dealt approached licensing issues.

She said: “What’s right for one area is not always right for another. We find that even within Sussex. Do you have the same approach for everyone or have a specific interpretation for every community? I think the answer is somewhere in the middle.”

Irving said frequent requests from police to the trade included having roving doorstaff to check on drunkenness within the venue rather than “being plonked by the door”.

She added: “I also have concerns that some young bar staff don’t have the confidence to challenge people who appear drunk. That’s why I would like to see someone with a bit more experience or a member of security close by to help them out.”


She said her “Utopia” was to have electronic age scanners in “anywhere that employs door staff”.

She said: “I have had operators tell me ‘it’s too expensive, it’ll ruin my business’. That is rubbish. I’ve looked into this and you are talking around £45 a week. If spending £45 a week is going to bring your business down then I would suggest you’re not suited to business.”

Irving also criticised “certain pub companies” for not taking enough responsibility for their venues. She said: “If there’s a problem all they do is change the DPS, and sooner or later we’re back where we started.

“They don’t give enough support to the person actually running the pub and if it’s a situation where it’s a tough pub or has difficult clientele then that creates a vicious circle.

“There is one particular pub where there were eight DPSs in the space of 12 months,” she added.

World Cup

Sussex Police has re-worded its advice to pubs ahead of next month’s World Cup, two years after being accused of issuing “veiled threats” to licensees.

The letters, advising the use of plastic cups, door staff and warning against irresponsible promotions, have been sent out to large venues and those in town centres.

A letter sent by the force ahead of Euro 2012 was accused of being “heavy-handed”.

Irving said: “Having looked at the letter again I thought maybe we could have phrased it differently. Hopefully this letter makes it clear we are just trying to make sure everyone is safe.”

The letter asks venues to complete a questionnaire on their plans. Irving insisted this was to ensure officers were deployed in the right areas. 

Related topics Licensing law

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