Licensing Hub – Legal with Poppleston Allen

Top tips: Make your venue safer with searches

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Ground rules: If someone refuses to be searched on entry, do not let them in
Ground rules: If someone refuses to be searched on entry, do not let them in

Related tags: Licensing, Property

With the seemingly ever-increasing risk of knife crime, here are some useful reminders about searching customers.
  • Look at your premises licence – are there any speci­fic conditions relating to searching?
  • ­It is sensible that any decision to search has been documented by way of a risk assessment. ‑ is may be something as simple as sending a note to the company providing the door staff that for a particular event you want door staff and that they need to carry out searches
  • ­Display notices outside the premises advising that customers may be searched and that any refusal to be searched will mean that the customer will be refused entry
  • Ensure that your search policy is in writing and has been signed up to by door staff
  • It isn’t necessary for you to employ door staff to search people, but this is the norm. In the event that you suspect an individual needs to be searched, there is nothing wrong with a member of staff doing this, as long as this is not their normal role and is done on an occasional basis
  • ­Any searching of customers must not be done on any discriminatory basis (e.g., on grounds of race or gender) but must be carried out where there is a suspicion that the individual coming into the premises may be carrying a ‘prohibited’ item, such as a weapon or drugs
  • Ensure that any female who is searched is patted down by a female and, likewise, a male by a male
  • ­Any searching should take place in the full view of the CCTV camera, ideally with a microphone and in a dedicated area
  • ­In the event that a more intimate search needs to be carried out of an individual, this should only be done in a private room and only with the individual’s consent. Should they not consent then they should be refused entry
  • ­In the event that any ‘prohibited’ items are found, you should ensure that you have agreed a policy with your local licensing officer as to how these should be dealt with
  • ­Where drugs have been put in a drugs safe, a protocol needs to be agreed with your local police licensing officer as to their collection by police officers. The drugs must not be carried to the police station by members of staff
  • ­If there is any doubt whether an individual who refuses to be searched should be admitted, ensure that they are not. The last thing you want is to ­find that someone was not searched and is then carrying a weapon into your premises.

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Related topics: Health & safety, Licensing Hub

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