The more that you can prepare, the greater chance you have of reducing the risk to people in vulnerable positions on your premises. Often, sadly, there is nothing that operators can do and a person intent on causing harm may be able to wander into any licensed premises.
What is key is understanding the situation and circumstances that can arise and what you can do to try and prevent harm occurring and how to deal with it when it does.
- Preparation is key. Undertake a risk assessment of your premises and think about how vulnerability can occur. It is not simply vulnerable people being present on the premises, but being in unsupervised areas (for example toilets or a crowded dance floor), and having access to alcohol, for instance where people leave their drinks or are able to pour their own drinks – thinking about what could occur will help you put a plan into place for that.
- Prepare your teams. Staff training is paramount. There are many brilliant training programmes run by local authorities, the Police and other companies which raise awareness of vulnerability and provide pragmatic advice on how it can be handled. You should also make sure your staff know signs to look out for, including issues to do with intoxication.
- Think carefully about your premises licence conditions. Operators selling alcohol must have an age verification policy in place and you should ensure that this is implemented correctly.
- There are many schemes which can help. Ask for Angela is very well known and straightforward to implement in licensed premises. Some local authorities run their own best practice schemes to raise awareness of vulnerability and it is worth speaking to your fellow licensees and local authority officers to find out more about this.
- Make sure all of your staff and any security teams are aware of what to do if they are concerned about a vulnerable person, for example if they receive an allegation of drink spiking or intoxication. Make sure you are taking the right steps for the circumstances, which may include retaining the drinks receptacle and not washing it up, securing CCTV and ensuring the person making the complaint is properly cared for. This will help you to assist the Police and other authorities where required.
- If you have any concerns at all, speak proactively and promptly to the Police, your local authority and / or take legal advice.