These licensing inspections can be a daunting prospect and although the responsible authorities will work in partnership with operators to help them promote the licensing objectives, operators should bear in mind that if they are found to be trading outside of the permissions granted under their premises licence then they will be committing an offence, which could lead to prosecution, an unlimited fine and/or a six-month prison sentence, and also a review of the premises licence.
Addressing the potential pitfalls of an enforcement visit in advance could save valuable time and resources. Here are our top tips to consider:
- Starting with the basics, ensure that the premises licence summary (or a certified copy) is on display with a nomination notice, stating who is responsible for keeping the premises licence in their custody. Operators should also check that the minimum weights and measures information (as detailed in the mandatory conditions on every premises licence) are on display or available to customers.
- Ensure that staff are trained on the activities, permitted hours and conditions on your premises licence. Staff should also know who the designated premisessupervisor (DPS) is and how to contact them if they are not on site. Inspecting officers will often ask staff questions relating to conditions and the DPS.
- It is good practice to have internal policies, such as dispersal, intoxication or vulnerability policies regardless of your conditions, but if policies are explicitly referred to on the licence then ensure that staff are well versed in their content and copies are kept on site. If staff have received training on any policies then ensure records are kept and can be presented to officers in the event of an inspection.
- If you have a dispersal or noise management policy then ensure that staff are adhering to it. Most visits from responsible authorities are reactive, so a premises receiving complaints relating to noise is much more likely to be subject to an inspection. Furthermore, if an environmental health officer determines that you are causing a ‘statutory nuisance’, you may be served with a noise abatement notice, which, if breached, can carry a maximum fine of £20,000 per incident.
- Operators should check the plans attached to the premises licence and ensure that they accurately reflect the current layout of the premises. Requirements of what should be included in the plans are detailed in statute and if in any doubt then operators should seek professional legal advice.
Ultimately, operators should try to work in partnership with the responsible authorities to help promote the licensing objectives, so if things do go wrong during an enforcement visit, we advise that you co-operate with the authorities and take their comments on board as long as they are reasonable.