This section contains useful information and video guides which should answer many of the questions you may have.
It also provides you with guidance on many of the areas where difficulties frequently arise in licensed premises.
Click any title to read more.
VIDEO: Changes to the Licensing Act You Need To Know
This useful video by Flint Bishop’s Head of Licensing Andrew Cochrane highlights the important changes to the Licensing Act which have been in force since 25th April 2012.
VIDEO: Designated Premises Supervisor: DPS
In every premises licensed for the supply of alcohol, a Personal Licence Holder must be specified as the Designated Premises Supervisor. This will normally be the person who has been given the day to day responsibility for running the premises by the Premises Licence Holder.
Watch the video to hear Andrew Cochrane, Head of Licensing, describe the application process involved in appointing a Designated Premises Supervisor
The Government considers it essential that Police Officers, Fire Officers or Officers of the Licensing Authority can identify immediately the Designated Premises Supervisor so that any problems can be dealt with swiftly. For this reason, the name of the Designated Premises Supervisor and contact details must be specified on the Premises Licence and this must be held at the premises and displayed in summary form.
To specify a new Designated Premises Supervisor an application must be made to the Licensing Authority together with a consent form signed by the individual to be specified confirming that they are responsible for taking over the role. A copy of the application also has to be served on the Police.
Importantly only one Designated Premises Supervisor may be specified on a single Premises Licence but a Designated Premises Supervisor may supervise more than one premises as long as they are able to ensure that the four licensing objectives are being properly promoted and the premises complies with the Licensing Laws and licensing conditions.
The Police have the right to object to the appointment of a Designated Premises Supervisor if they feel that that appointment would undermine the crime prevention objective. This may happen where they feel for example that a Designated Premises Supervisor lacks the experience to run a large venue or there are concerns that a Designated Premises Supervisor is being appointed to more than one premises to have the effect of undermining the licensing objectives.
VIDEO: Reviews of your Premises Licence
Unfortunately, certain circumstances can lead to your Licensing Authority wanting to review your Premises Licence.
Watch the video to hear Andrew Cochrane, Head of Licensing, talk about what you can expect if you have difficulties with your Premises Licence.
VIDEO: How To Apply For A New Premises Licence
An in-depth video guide outlining the procedure to follow when applying for a Premises Licence.
A Premises Licence application is made to the Licensing Section of your Local Council.
At the same time as submitting the application to the Council you also have to send a copy to what are known as the Responsible Authorities: Police, Trading Standards, Fire Service, Area Child Protection Committee, Planning, Environmental Health and Building Control.
It is also necessary to display a blue copy of the Notice of Application in the prescribed form on the premises for a period of 28 days and to insert, within 10 working days, a copy of the advertisement in the local newspaper.
During the 28 day consultation period representations can be received from any of the Responsible Authorities or Interested Parties (local residents or businesses in the area) to your application.
If these representations cannot be resolved (which quite often they are) then there will be a hearing before a Licensing Panel comprising of local Councillors who will determine the application. This hearing will take place within 20 working days of the end of the consultation period.
When you submit your application to the Council it will need to be accompanied by a plan (drawn in accordance with statutory criteria), a consent by the person who wishes to be specified as the Designated Premises Supervisor and a fee (determined by reference to the rateable value of the premises).
VIDEO: How To Apply For Your Personal Licence
If you want to sell alcohol you will need a Personal Licence. There are a number of criteria that you must adhere to be able to obtain a Personal Licence.
Watch the video to hear Andrew Cochrane, head of licensing, talk through the process of applying for a Personal Licence.
If you want to sell alcohol you will need a Personal Licence.
In order to obtain a Personal Licence, you will first need to satisfy yourself that you do not hold one of the relevant offences specified in Schedule 4 of the Licensing Act 2003. It will be obvious to you if you are likely to have committed an offence which is going to preclude you from holding a Personal Licence, assault, burglary, drink driving are obvious examples.
Perhaps some less obvious examples such as offences under the Food Safety Act, Copyright Patents and Design Act could also preclude you from holding a Personal Licence. If you have committed one of these relevant offences then you will have to wait until the expiry of the rehabilitation period by which time the offence will have become spent. Typically the rehabilitation period is five years but some offences can never become spent. If you have an unspent conviction then the Licensing Authority will notify this fact to the Police at the time of your application to them for Personal Licence and the police will then have fourteen days to object to your application. If they do not object your application will be granted if they do object the matter will be referred to a Licensing Panel who will have to consider whether or not your Personal Licence should be granted. In exceptional circumstances, a Licensing Committee can be persuaded to grant a Personal Licence despite the existence of an unspent relevant conviction.
Having overcome the hurdle of whether or not you have a relevant offence it is also necessary for you to have undertaken some basic training in Licensing Law. This will take the form of a one-day course leading to the award of the National Licensees Certificate for Personal Licence Holders. You will be required to produce the certificate with your application. Your application will also need to be accompanied by a Criminal Records Bureau check showing that you have none of the relevant offences referred to above and to accompany this there will also need to be a signed declaration made by you that you do not have any relevant offences whether they be committed in this country or abroad.
You should allow a total of one month to undertake the course, obtain your CRB check and make the application to the Council.
Finally, your application will need to be accompanied by two photographs of yourself, one (certified by a person of standing in the Community to show that it bears a true likeness to you) and a cheque for £37.00.
The Personal Licence once granted enables you to authorise the sale of alcohol and also to hold the office of Designated Premises Supervisor at any premises.
VIDEO: Variations of
If you want to change any of the details on your Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate other than to transfer the Licence or vary the Designated Premises Supervisor it will be necessary to do this following consultation with the Licensing Authority.
Watch the video to hear Andrew Cochrane, head of licensing, describe the process of changing an existing premises licence.
Examples of such changes could be hours of the Licence, the types of licensable activities, the conditions of the Licence or the plan attached to the Licence.
Typically, if for example you wanted to extend the hours for the sale of alcohol on the Licence an application would need to be made to the Local Authority together with the appropriate fee determined by reference to the rateable value of the premises with a copy of the application being served on what are known as the Responsible Authorities (Police, Fire, Planning, Environmental Health, Building Control, trading Standards and Child Protection Committee) who would all be allowed to comment.
It will also be necessary to advertise the application on the premises and in the local newspaper. The procedure takes 28 days but if there are objections a hearing will have to be held before a Licensing Committee of the Local Authority.
As from July 2009 a new simplified procedure was introduced to deal with uncontroversial variations. Typically this could include a change to the layout of your premises. Plans of premises have to be drawn in a very prescriptive way to comply with regulations laid down by Parliament. Previously had you wanted to change any of the details on that plan, which with some Licensing Authorities could even involve the repositioning of a Fire Extinguisher, you would have had to apply for a major variation of the Premises Licence at enormous cost.
The new minor variations procedure gives a power to the Licensing Officer at your Local Authority to deem that a variation is so unlikely to undermine one of the Licensing objectives (prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, protection of children from harm and prevention of public nuisance) that it can be dealt with in a minor way.
There is no requirement to serve the Responsible Authorities however there is a requirement to display, for ten days, a notice of application on the premises. If during that period there are objections, for example from a member of the public the Licensing Officer may well decline the application with no right of appeal, your only option then being to apply using the major variation route. The Council fee for applications of this nature is reduced to £89.00 and the whole process should be completed inside 15 working days.
GUIDANCE: Dealing with Underage Sales
At the end of January 2010 the Government introduced the “two strikes” legislation.
This means that if somebody (not necessarily the same person) is cautioned, convicted or accepts a fixed penalty notice for the sale of alcohol to a person under the age of 18 twice in a three month period at the same premises then the premises face closure and the Premises Licence Holder a substantial fine.
The Police and Trading Standards conduct regular underage test purchases, as they now find it much easier to take action against premises who are found to be persistently selling alcohol to persons under the age of 18.
Severe action is less likely if you can show that you have done everything you possibly can to reduce the sale of alcohol to under 18s. You should put the following procedures in place:
Adopt the ‘Challenge 21’ or ‘Challenge 25’ policy – train all staff and keep documented training records even for experienced staff.
Police forces around the country are cracking down on the sale of alcohol to people who are already drunk. This is an offence under The Licensing Act 2003.
As a reminder the law says:
If the police consider that an offence has been committed they can issue you with an immediate fixed penalty notice of an actual sale of alcohol to a person who is drunk but you could also face:
The possibility of prosecution for that offence for allowing such a sale and also the other offences of obtaining alcohol for a person who is drunk and allowing disorderly conduct on licensed premises.
The possibility of the issue of a Closure Notice, particularly if breaches of licence conditions are identified.
The possibility of a premises licence Review itself.
The potential seriousness of these consequences cannot be overstated.
What is clear is that you and your staff should be alerted to the possibility of such scrutiny, you should ensure that you have due diligence systems in respect of sales to drunken persons are up to date and that any training updates are recorded in writing as part of that due diligence. Any refusals you make should be recorded. You should do this on your refusals register.
It is very important that in the event that it is suggested that such a sale has taken place that no admission is given and that the penalty notice is not accepted before taking legal advice.
GUIDANCE: Dealing with Conflict on your Premises
The main causes of trouble in pubs include:
Arguments between customers
Customers having too much to drink
Customers who have used illegal drugs
Identify those members of staff who may be at risk
Young staff may be more at risk because they are less experienced and may find it difficult to spot potentially volatile situations. They are also more likely to be picked on by the trouble – makers as easy targets. Make sure they know who is in charge and who they should go to if they have a problem.
If you employ 5 or more staff you will need to keep a written record of your risk assessment and tell staff what to do in any of the situations you have identified.
Situations which may cause conflict:
Refusal to sell alcohol to customers who appear underage.
Refusal to sell alcohol to a customer who is drunk.
Refusal to sell alcohol after the time specified on your premises licence.
Busy premises where customers may have to wait to be served leading to customer impatience and hostility.
Crowded premises – you may need to limit customer numbers and train staff in how to refuse entry when the limit has been reached. Check your premises licence-it may specify a limit on the number of people who are allowed on the premises at any one time.
Keep trouble at bay – recognise the signs of potential aggression, train your staff in this too. Don’t respond to aggression with aggression but try to stay calm. Keep body language open and avoid prolonged eye contact.
If there is an incident:
If it is an argument between customers consider if there is somewhere you can take them away from other customers who wont ‘egg them on’.
Call the police-it is better if the call comes from the Designated Premises Supervisor or a member of staff rather than a local resident outside the pub.
Record any incident, even one which seem relatively minor, in your incident log – this is part of your due diligence.
Note: Certain incidents of physical violence must be reported to the Health & Safety executive under RIDDOR (e.g. incidents where a member of the public is taken from the scene to hospital).
GUIDANCE: Mandatory Conditions on Smaller Measures
As of 1st October 2010, the new mandatory condition requiring you to provide customers the choice of smaller measures came into force
Below is an outline of these changes.
Beer and cider must be made available in half pint measures
Gin, rum, vodka, whisky to be available in 25ml or 35ml (depending on the measures you have opted to serve)
Still wine to be available in a 125 ml glass
Customers must be made aware of these measures e.g. by listing them on a drinks menu
If you ONLY use the single serve bottles of wine and do not serve wine by the glass – you do not need to offer 125ml measures of wine
Government stamped measures must be used. It is NOT necessary to purchase 125ml wine glasses
The requirement applies to STILL wine only – not Sparkling Wine or Champagne
If you only use the pre-packaged servings you will need to display the appropriate measures
CIDER AND BEER
If you ONLY use single serve bottles you do not need to offer cider in half pint measures
If you ONLY use the pre-packaged servings you will need to amend the Measures notice accordingly
The following information should be displayed either on a notice or on a menu or price list:
If you serve spirits in 25 ml:
Still wine is available on these premises in 125 ml measures
Gin, Whisky, Vodka and Rum is available in 25 ml measures
Beer is available in half pint measures
Cider is available in half pint measures
If you serve spirits in 35 ml:
Still wine is available on these premises in 125 ml measures
Gin, Whisky, Vodka and Rum is available in 35 ml measures
Beer is available in half pint measures
Cider is available in half pint measures
GUIDANCE: Dealing with Noise Regulations
People can often experience temporary hearing loss after leaving a noisy pub or club. Although hearing recovers after an hour or so, this should not be ignored as it is a sign that if you continue to be exposed to the noise your hearing could be permanently damaged.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require all employers and self employed persons to assess the risks to employees and any other person who may be affected by their business. Employers with 5 or more employees must have a written risk assessment.
Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
Employers have a legal duty to protect the hearing of their employees; there is no legal obligation to protect the hearing of members of the public but you do have a responsibility for any DJs or musicians performing on the premises.
If the noise level in your premises is higher than 80 decibels (80dB(A)) you must inform staff of the risks and explain how they can protect their ears. You must provide ear protectors for staff to use and keep them in good repair.
People who work somewhere with daily noise levels at or above 85 dB(A), or where sound levels ever peak at or above 140 dB(A), must wear ear protectors. You as an employer can be taken to court if you fail to make sure hearing protection is worn.
You must also keep the ear protectors in good repair and clearly mark Ear Protection Zones where ear protectors must be worn.
If people have to shout or have difficulty being heard clearly by someone about 2 metres away you may have a noise problem at work. Each member of staff must be assessed and a written record of this kept by you as the employer.
Here are some suggestions of action you could take:
Direct speakers towards the dance floor and away from the bar and other staff areas.
Separate the bar from the main music area.
Noise limiting devices fitted to sound systems can prevent music sound rising above a specific level.
Provide soundproof enclosures for DJs.
Using acoustically absorbent material on walls and ceilings can make music sound clearer and crisper because it reverberates less, (check that materials used will not create a fire hazard).
Provide plastic bins to collect bottles – rather than metal bins.
Provide quiet areas where staff can go to give their ears time to recover.
Train staff about the risks of not protecting their hearing.
Provide earplugs. Earplugs can be unobtrusive and will not block out the sound of music or conversation. In fact, by blocking the excess noise, they can improve ability to make out conversation and music. If worn correctly, ear plugs can reduce sound levels by between 15 and 35 dBs. Special earplugs are available for musicians and DJs.
Provide regular breaks from the music. Aim for at least ten minutes break every hour.
Rotate staff so that glass collectors do not spend all their time in the noise areas.
GUIDANCE: How to Deal with Smoking on Licensed Premises
If you are in charge of premises and/or vehicles, you will have a legal responsibility to prevent people from smoking in them.
If someone does smoke in any premises or vehicles you are responsible for, here are some practical steps you might take to deal with them.
Point to the no smoking signs and ask the person to stop smoking or go outside
Tell them you would be committing an offence if you allowed them to smoke, and they are breaking the law by smoking in a smoke-free premises or vehicle, and both of you could be fined
If an employee refuses to stop smoking;
Remind them the new law is to protect employees and the public from the harmful effects of their second-hand smoke
If necessary, put into practice your disciplinary procedure for non-compliance
Keep a record of where and when the incident took place, the name of the person involved and the outcome
Staff are not permitted to smoke in the premises even when they are closed to the public, except in private accommodation within the premises
If a customer refuses to stop smoking;
Explain that staff will refuse to serve them if they continue to smoke, and they will be asked to leave your premises
If they won’t leave implement your normal procedure for anti-social or illegal behaviour in your premises
Keep a record of where and then the incident took place, the name of the person involved and the outcome
If physical violence is threatened by a person smoking, we suggest you notify and/or seek assistance from the police
GUIDANCE: Serving Food at your Premises
The four key laws that food businesses in Great Britain must be aware of are Food Safety Act 1990, Food Premises (Registration) Regulations 1991, Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 and Food Safety (Temperature Control) Regulations 1995:
Food Safety Act 1990
You must not sell (or keep for sale) food that is ‘unfit’ for people to eat.
You must not cause food to be dangerous to health.
You must not sell food that is not what the customer is entitled to expect, in terms of content or quality.
You must not describe or present food in a way that is false or misleading.
The word unfit describes food that is not of a high enough standard for people to eat. Food might become unfit if you keep it past its ‘Use by’ date or do not prepare it correctly. It is important to be able to demonstrate the positive steps taken by your business to ensure good food hygiene.
Food Premises (Registration) Regulations 1991
If you are planning to start a new food business, you need to register with your local environmental health department at your local authority 28 days before opening. An application form for registering a food premises can be found at the end of this guide.
There should be effective food safety management measures in place, to ensure that food is produced safely and that the health of your customers is not put at risk. This involves identifying how and when things go wrong and introducing checks to stop that happening and following the principles of good hygiene.
The four main things to remember for good hygiene are the 4 Cs:
Effective cleaning gets rid of bacteria on hands, equipment and surfaces. So it helps stop bacteria from spreading onto food. You should do the following things:
Make sure that all your staff wash and dry their hands thoroughly before handling food.
Clean food areas and equipment between different tasks, especially after handling raw food.
Clean as you go. If you spill some food, clear it up straight away and then clean the surface thoroughly.
Use cleaning products that are suitable for the job, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Do not let food waste build up.
A cleaning schedule is a good way to make sure that surfaces and equipment are cleaned when they need to be. It can stop cleaning products being wasted or used incorrectly.
Thorough cooking kills harmful bacteria such as salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli 0157 and listeria in food. So it is extremely important to make sure that food is cooked properly. Undercooked food could cause food poisoning.
When cooking or reheating food always check that it is piping hot all the way through (and do not reheat more than once).
It is especially important to make sure that you thoroughly cook poultry, rolled joints and products made from minced meat, such as burgers and sausages. This is because there could be bacteria in the middle of these types of meat.
Whole cuts (such as steaks) can be served pink/rare at the customer’s request. When you are keeping cooked food hot, you must keep it above 63C. When you are serving or displaying food, it can be below 63C for a maximum of two hours, but you can only do this once. Then you must throw the food away, or cool it as quickly as possible and keep it chilled until it is used.
Use a hand-held probe to check the core temperature and record a random selection of temperatures in a Temperature Control Book.
Chilling food properly stops bacteria from growing and multiplying. Some foods need to be kept chilled to keep them safe, for example food with a ‘Use by’ date, food that you have cooked and will not be using immediately, or other ready-to-eat food such as prepared salads.
It is very important not to leave these types of food standing around at room temperature. You should do the following things:-
Check chilled food on delivery to make sure it is cold.
Put food that needs to be chilled in the fridge straight away.
Cool cooked food as quickly as possible and then put it in the fridge.
Keep chilled food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible during preparation.
Use a fridge thermometer to check regularly that your fridge and display units are cold enough.
Cold food must be kept at 8C or below and can only be kept above 8C for a maximum of four hours.
Cross contamination is when bacteria spread between food, surfaces or equipment. It is most likely to happen when raw food touches (or drips onto) ready-to-eat food, equipment or surfaces. Do the following to avoid it.
Keep raw and ready-to-eat foods apart at all times.
Wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw food.
Clean work surfaces, chopping boards and equipment thoroughly before you start preparing food and after you have used them to prepare raw food.
Ideally use different chopping boards and knives (colour coded, for example, green for vegetables and red for raw meat) for raw and ready-to-eat food.
Keep raw food below ready-to-eat food in the fridge. If possible use separate fridges for raw and ready-to-eat food.
Train staff to know how to avoid cross-contamination.
The stages of the food chain that are subject to temperature control.
The temperatures at which certain foods must be kept.
Which foods are exempt from specific temperatures controls.
When the temperature controls allow flexibility.
Good temperature control is fundamental to food safety in many food businesses.
Environmental health officers will inspect your premises to make sure you are following food hygiene rules. They will offer help and advice on food safety, and can take action if they find that your standards of food hygiene are not satisfactory.
GUIDANCE: Drugs on a Licensed Premises
How to minimise the risk
High standards of service and cleanliness are a powerful deterrent to drugs trade. As this shows you care about your venue and look after it and all who use it.
Low standards indicate the “don’t care management style”. Dealers will not take any unnecessary risks; a high profile zero tolerance approach will deter them from using your premises.
If the police find evidence of drugs, you may be required to put the following measures in place.
Removal of toilet seats.
Apply baby oil or similar substance to all flat surfaces in the toilet area.
Doors on toilet cubicles to be cut down so staff can easily see whether there is more than one customer per cubicle.
More CCTV cameras-the police may ask for cameras to be sited in the toilets to cover the sink areas.
All your staff need to be aware of what signs to look for. It is especially important to include in your training any staff who undertake cleaning duties as they are likely to come across the evidence if there are drugs on the premises.
Signs of drug use: Materials
Torn up beer mats/cigarette packet/bits of cardboard left on tables or in ashtrays.
Foam stuffing from seats/foam left lying around.
Roaches (Home made filter tips from cannabis cigarettes).
Small packets made of folded paper, card or foil.
Empty sweet wrappings left in toilets.
Payment with tightly rolled bank notes, or notes that have been tightly rolled.
Traces of blood or powder on bank notes.
Traces of powder on toilet seats or other surfaces in toilets.
Very clean surfaces in toilets.
Syringes (caution can carry infection do not touch).
Spoons or burned tinfoil in toilets.
Signs of drug use: Physical symptoms
Very dilated pupils.
Excessive sniffing, dripping nose, watery red eyes.
Sudden severe cold symptoms following a visit to the toilet/garden/car park.
White marks/traces of powder round the nose.
Signs of drug use: Behaviour
Excessive giggling, laughing at nothing, non-stop talking.
Any big alterations in behaviour following trips to the toilet, garden or car park areas.
Signs of drug dealing
A person that stays a while and has a lot of friends that only stay for short periods.
A person making frequent trips to the toilets, garden or car park followed by different people at the same time.
A person seeming to hide in corners talking very quietly.
Dealers are not identifiable by appearance. They may look very respectable.
Frequent glass collections, emptying of ashtrays or cleaning tables provides a good excuse for “surveillance”.
It may also be prudent to maintain a log of any behaviour or incident which involve drugs or weapons.
GUIDANCE: Adult Entertainment on Licensed Premises
As the Law stands at the moment, if you wish to provide entertainment of an adult nature (for example lap dancing or striptease) at your premises then you will need to check your Premises Licence to see whether it was applied for and whether your Licence permits entertainment of an adult nature.
If it isn’t permitted it will be necessary to make an application to vary your Premises Licence or alternatively carry out the entertainment under the benefit of a Temporary Event Notice.
If you have provision for adult entertainment on your Premises Licence and you utilise this permission on more than eleven occasions per year, you will also need a Sex Establishment Licence. There is no prescribed application form or set fee although there is a procedure for determining applications and once gained the Licence lasts for one year.
GUIDANCE: CCTV on your Licenced Premises
It’s often a condition on your Premises Licence that you operate a CCTV system. If you have CCTV, you need to register under the data protection laws.
How much does notification cost?
Notification costs an annual fee of £35, no VAT charged. The fee is payable to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Watch Out: A number of private companies have been contacting businesses throughout the UK demanding fees in excess of £95 to register/notify your business under the Data Protection Act. Do not be misled by these ‘agencies’. They have no official standing or powers under the Data Protection Act and there is no connection between them and the Information Commissioner’s Office.
You need to be able to operate your CCTV, check it complies with your Licence conditions and ensure you are able to download the images if so required.