The new code, which is subject to Parliamentary approval, stipulates that licensing authorities will be expected to give at least 48 hours’ notice before visiting a pub and will need to clearly explain the reasons for their visit – as laid out in the draft version published earlier this year.
However, it states that “if pre-notification of a visit would defeat the purposes of exercising powers”, officers can still visit unannounced if they have the statutory power to do so.
The code will come under section 48 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
The Home Office said the guidance and considerations will “ensure greater consistency in the exercise of powers of entry, and greater clarity for those affected by them, while upholding effective enforcement”.
Andy Grimsey, solicitor at licensing law firm Poppleston Allen, said the code is a “step in the right direction” but warned that it might not achieve its stated aim of minimising disruption to licensees.
“Because the code’s terms are so general it may not prevent some of the heavy-handed tactics we see occasionally from the police when visiting premises at peak trading times,” he said.
View the new code of practice here.