Pub loses licence after knife attack

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

"Serious crime and disorder": the Prince of Wales, Rochester, was closed following a council meeting on 3 April with the landlord’s licence also suspended.
"Serious crime and disorder": the Prince of Wales, Rochester, was closed following a council meeting on 3 April with the landlord’s licence also suspended.
The Prince of Wales, in Rochester, Kent, has had its licence revoked with immediate effect following a knife attack on 10 March.

An appeal was submitted to Medway council’s licensing committee after a man in his 20s sustained facial injuries at the pub, on Cecil Road in Rochester, resulting in him losing more than a litre of blood and needing 40 stitches.

The pub was closed following a council meeting on 3 April, with the landlord’s licence suspended on the grounds that the premises was associated with "serious crime and disorder". The police had been monitoring the venue in the light of previous concerns that included drug use, underage drinking and after-hours lock ins.

Landlord Alfred Martin has the right to appeal.

Police were called to a disturbance at 1.20am on Saturday 10 March – outside of the pub's Friday to Saturday permitted hours for selling alcohol, which run from 10am until midnight.

CCTV required as part of the licence conditions was not recording at the time of the attack.

A 17-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of carrying out the attack.

Licence revoked due to 'serious crime and disorder'

Andy Grimsey, partner at Poppleston Allen, commented: “The police have a duty to protect the public and obviously if there are worries about violent crime in pubs then this will immediately raise concerns.

“Any incidents involving knives or weapons of any kind are likely to put a premises to the top of the monitoring list.

“The police would usually want to work with the premises proactively in the first instance but sometimes this isn’t possible, perhaps because the licensee has previously been uncooperative or because the incident is so serious and urgent that the risk of reprisals justifies applying for a summary review to suspend the licence.

“A licensee has a legal right to bar anyone, so long as this is not due to a protected characteristic - eg, sex, disability, sexual orientation, race.”

Grimsey adds that there are a number of bodies that pubs can work with in order to tackle disruptive or violent customers in order to ensure their licence isn’t threatened.  

“These include the police and the local licensing authority. They can also join Pubwatch, or other best-practice schemes such as Best Bar None, Purple Flag and BIDs (business improvement districts) if these exist in their area.

“Good security companies will always help with high-quality door staff, and there are companies who carry out covert test purchasing to spot for drunkenness and underage sales. Trade bodies such as the British Institute of Innkeeping, the British Beer & Pub Association and UKHospitality can provide a wealth of information and assistance.”

Referring to the incident at the Prince of Wales on 10 March, Grimsey adds: “Any allegations of CCTV not working and cleaning up scenes of crime before forensics have arrived (which are critical to police obtaining evidence to prosecute) will be treated very seriously by the police.

“Ultimately, a violent incident can happen almost anywhere and even in a pub or late-night bar many police forces will not automatically reach for their review papers if the licensee is a responsible operator, worked in partnership, and the incident was not linked directly to licensable activities.”

Read The Morning Advertiser's​ advice on how publicans can keep themselves and their customers safe. 

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