New Alcohol Code to be Introduced this Year
New Alcohol Code to be Introduced this Year to Call Time on Binge Drinking Culture
Mandatory Licensing Conditions designed to reduce binge drinking culture in England and Wales will come into force later this year according to a recent Government announcement.
Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, is still to confirm the final details of the Code. However it is designed to tackle drink related crime and disorder that is estimated to cost the United Kingdom between £8 billion and £13 billion per year.
Pub owners who breach the Code could face extra conditions, the risk of losing their licence as well as fines of up to £20,000 and even 6 months in prison.
The new mandatory conditions will include the following:-
- A ban on ‘irresponsible’ promotions such as “all you can drink for £10”, woman drink for free deals, speed drinking competitions and “Dentist’s Chairs”.
- Ensuring that free tap water is available.
- Ensuring that all those who sell alcohol check the identity of anyone who looks under 18.
- Ensuring that establishments make available a choice between a single and double measure of spirits and a small and large glass of wine.
However a ban on the bulk discounting of alcohol by shops and supermarkets that led to Police complaints that lager is being sold more cheaply than water has been dropped from the Code. The Government did admit that there were issues (around rock bottom cheap alcohol) but has rules out a compulsory minimum pricing in England and Wales by stating “it would not at this stage be sensible”.
It is believed that the Code is to be introduced in two stages during this year. The first stage will come into effect on 6th April and will cover the ban on promotions, drinking games and the provision of free tap water. The second stage will come into effect on 1st October, and will cover issues relating to smaller measures and age checks.
Licensing Partner Daven Naghen commented as follows:-
“For many this Code is considered long overdue. Licensees should make sure that they are fully aware of the new codes as and when they come into force. If Licensees do not comply with the Code, as well as running the risk of losing their Licence they could also face criminal prosecution (and a possible large fine and/or jail sentence).”
For further details on the new Alcohol Code please log on to our website for updates.
What are the Licensing Objectives?
The Licensing Objectives are the 4 key elements that all Licensing Decisions will have regard to.
The Licensing Objectives are:
The prevention of crime and disorder;
The prevention of public nuisance; and
The protection of children from harm.
What is a Premises Licence?
This is a Licence that covers the actual Premises. If the Premises are sold or transferred the Premises Licence will remain although there will need to be an application to change the Premises Licence Holder. The Licence will detail things such as opening hours and any conditions upon the Licence. A Premises Licence is required if the Premises undertake any licensable activity such as the supply of alcohol, the supply of hot food after 11pm or the provision of regulated entertainment.
What is a Personal Licence?
The system is split into 2 parts with a Licence for individuals as well as for the Premises. For a Premises to supply alcohol they will need a Designated Premises Supervisor who will need to hold a Personal Licence. Any person who is over 18 and who has passed an accredited licensing qualification may apply to the Licensing Authority for the area in which they reside for a Personal Licence. It is normally expected that they have no convictions for a relevant offence.
What is the Designated Premises Supervisor?
The Designated Premises Supervisor (often shortened to DPS) is named on the Premises Licence and must hold a Personal Licence. They are the person who is responsible for the day to day control of the Premises. They are the ones who will be held responsible for any failings and so could be prosecuted for allowing the supply of alcohol to a person under 18 even if they were not present when the sale or supply took place.
Must the DPS always be present?
No. They are expected to be in control and to know their responsibilities but they need not always be present. Indeed it is possible to be DPS on more than one Premises Licence. It will be expected that the DPS has ensured that all staff have been trained and are aware of their responsibilities.
What happens if a DPS is convicted of an offence?
It will depend on the nature of the conviction and the punishment imposed but the Personal Licence may be revoked. We would strongly advise that you seek immediate legal advice if you are a DPS who is arrested or charged with any offence.
Can we change the hours or conditions on the Premises Licence?
Yes it is possible to apply to extend the hours by making an application to vary the Premises Licence. Often Premises have accepted shorter hours or onerous conditions as a compromise to ensure that the initial Licence was granted as soon as possible. The application process is similar to applying for a new Premises Licence and so it must be advertised and there will be a 28 day period in which responsible authorities such as the police, trading standards and certain departments of the local council may object. Other interested parties such as local residents may also object. If there are no objections the variation should be granted. If there are objections there may be discussions as to whether a compromise can be reached but if not the matter will be heard by the Licensing Authority. The application will have in mind the 4 Licensing Objectives and any decision will have to have regard to these. It may be the case that an extension of hours may be agreed if other conditions are met such as minimum staffing levels, provision of CCTV or agreement to provide SIA registered Door Supervisors.