Legal Q&A

Onus falls on the police if an officer drinks a beer

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Onus falls on the police if an officer drinks a beer

Related tags: Personal licence, Alcoholic beverage

Police drinking, jazz festival restrictions and what to do with an assault charge.

Q: I have a friend who is a police officer and he tells me I can’t serve him a beer while he is on duty, is this right?

A:​ It was historically against the law to do so (as it was for the other soliciting profession!), but it is no longer an offence. Indeed, you can tell your friend the responsibility for ensuring that the purchase is appropriate falls on the officer, not the licensee.

Home Office guidance on ‘police officer misconduct, unsatisfactory performance and attendance management procedures’ states: “Officers do not purchase or consume alcohol when on duty, unless specifically authorised to do so or it becomes necessary for the proper discharge of a particular police duty.”

The officer would need to be clear that their actions were appropriate in the circumstances and that they had the necessary authorisation or duty requirement before making such a purchase. So it’s your friend who is accountable to their line management and police internal discipline processes for their actions, rather than you as landlord.

Beware of restrictions for jazz festival drinking

Q: I am a big live music fan, and we are now full swing in the summer music festival season. I am running a small jazz festival at my local park, and a friend who runs a pub next to the park asked if she could sell drinks to take up the road with them and drink while they are at the festival? As an organiser of the festival I’m happy with it as we only have small bar.

A: It sounds good but she will need permission for off-sales from her pub and should check there is no condition restricting it. Secondly, she should ensure there are no local by-laws.

If there is a designated public place order in effect, either on the road or in the park, then police officers can order a person to stop drinking alcohol in public and confiscate it from them. She might want to advise her local licensing department and the police to ensure that they are aware of what is happening and can plan their resources accordingly. You should also consider your community and neighbours and do your best to encourage people to not leave bottles and litter along the street and in the park.

Both you, at the festival and your friend, running the pub, must ensure you retail alcohol responsibly and the usual rules in respect of service to underage persons or people who are drunk still apply (even if they are drinking the alcohol elsewhere).

Do I need to tell authorities about assault charge?

Q: Following some trouble at my pub (which I was trying to stop!), I was arrested and charged with assault. I have a court date set for next month. I am a tenant of a pub company, I am a personal licence holder and I hold an SIA (security industry authority) licence. Do I need to inform the local authority or SIA about the charge?

A: ​You will obviously have a lot on your mind, however, you are right that you need to let certain people know about the charge. In terms of your personal licence, when you make your first appearance before the magistrates’ court, you must inform the court you hold a personal licence. If you are convicted, the court may suspend your personal licence for up to six months, or even forfeit it, and they will notify the licensing authority that issued your personal licence.
Failure to notify the court that you hold a personal licence is a separate offence in itself. Secondly, in terms of your SIA licence, you need to inform the SIA of any convictions, cautions, warnings or charges as soon as practicable, and within 21 days. Again, the SIA may revoke or suspend your licence. You may also need to inform your pub company of the charge – check your tenancy.

Related topics: Licensing law

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