Many operators do not know what to expect when faced with a visit and, on the occasion that these are unannounced visits, this can cause stress and anxiety for your team, even within the most well-operated premises.
Here are our tips on how to best prepare for an inspection:
- First and foremost, ensure you read your premises licence and action any requirements set out by the conditions. Common failures to comply with conditions often relate to simple things such as the requirement to display notices asking customers to leave quietly but can also include more complex issues such as a member of staff being available at all times to download CCTV images. It is important to ensure your staff are aware of the conditions and that adequate training is provided in areas detailed by conditions.
- The mandatory conditions require all sales of alcohol to be authorised by a personal licence holder. While this authorisation does not legally have to be written down, it is good practice to have a bar staff authorisation form listing members of staff authorised to sell alcohol, accompanied by a signed declaration by a personal licence holder confirming they authorise those members of staff to sell alcohol.
- Check the plan for your premises licence. It forms part of your premises licence and it is an offence to trade otherwise than in accordance with this. Any changes may require the consent of the licensing authority so it is important to ensure you have the correct permissions in place.
- Staff and door staff training are key. Your staff should be fully trained in their responsibilities in relation to selling alcohol and it is good practice to ensure they are also trained upon the specific conditions of the premises licence, including the licensable activities and timings, in order to ensure that the risk of any breaches is kept to a minimum. Door staff should also be trained upon the conditions of the premises licence to ensure that they are familiar with any specific conditions regarding search policies, dispersal, etc.
- Check your CCTV system. Even if you do not have a specific CCTV condition on your premises licence, it is good practice to ensure any system you do have is working correctly and you are able to download images. This can assist the authorities when investigating an incident but can also offer a degree of protection to the staff working within the premises if an incident occurs.
Most inspection visits are followed up with a letter setting out any actions required and I often see letters of praise from licensing officers who have visited premises and been greeted by helpful and well-trained staff.
Some preparation in advance can ensure your staff are confident to deal with any questions that may arise and minimise the risk of any enforcement action being taken.
For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website.