The Licensing Act 2003: post-legislative scrutiny Contents

Chapter 9: Crime, Disorder and Public Safety


369.The consumption of alcohol, with its disinhibiting effects on behaviour, has and most likely always will be associated with some level of crime and disorder, which must be controlled and actively managed. For most of the past two centuries, the police have been primarily entrusted with this task, and this remains the case today, even as some types of licensed premises are increasingly expected to take on a greater share of this burden through the hiring of private security. In relation to the Licensing Act 2003, the police are also a designated responsible authority, which entitles and indeed requires them to scrutinise licensing applications and make representations against those they have reason to believe risk undermining one of the four licensing objectives. Furthermore, they are one of only two responsible authorities currently empowered to object to TENs, alongside environmental health officers.

Figure 6: Violent incidents where the victim believed the offender(s) to be under the influence of alcohol, year ending March 2006 to year ending March 2015, England and Wales

Bar and line chart showing numbers and percentages of offenders perceived to be under the influece of alcohol 2006 to 2015

Source: Office for National Statistics, ‘Nature of crime tables, year ending March 2015’ (16 July 2015):
[accessed 10 March 2017]

370.The challenges the police face are substantial, but the trends since the Act was brought into force have been broadly encouraging (Figure 6). The proportion of violent incidents in which victims believed the offender to be under the influence of alcohol has remained relatively stable, at between 48% and 55% of all violent incidents between 2006 and 2015. This period has also seen a steady overall decrease in violent incidents, and the number of violent incidents in which the offender was likely to have been under the influence of alcohol fell from 924,000 in the year ending March 2006, to 592,000 in the year ending March 2015.

371.We received little evidence specifically on the subject of public safety, as distinct from crime and disorder, despite asking about the subject both in our call for evidence and in oral evidence sessions. We have therefore not discussed this as a subject separate from crime and disorder.


Police licensing officers

372.The role of police licensing officers (PLOs), who may or may not be fully attested police officers depending on the forces they serve, is to supervise licensable activities within their jurisdictions. Depending on their force, they will often work in licensing or ‘harm reduction’ teams, and may well have responsibilities for monitoring a wide range of licensable activities besides the serving of alcohol, such as gambling or some forms of live entertainment.

373.Among their primary duties, they will normally be required to assess licence applications in their local area and submit representations on behalf of the police in cases where they have concerns that one of the four licensing objectives is likely to be breached. They may well also be expected to liaise with and inspect premises, promote best practice in premises relating to crime, disorder and public safety, and identify problem premises which may be linked with crime and disorder in the local area. As such, theirs is a highly technical job which requires a strong understanding of licensing law, the ability to develop good working relationships with licensees, and to predict and head off problems before they arise.

374.The crucial role that police licensing officers could perform in the licensing system was emphasised to us in the course of our inquiry. David Banks of Rushcliffe Borough Council told us that in Nottinghamshire, they were:

“… very fortunate to have a police licensing officer who provides very good case-specific and premises-specific information to licensing authorities. That allows us often to make decisions, take action and negotiate situations before even an appeal or a hearing takes place, which can also save time and costs”.353

375.Evidence we have received suggests that there are very often insufficient numbers of police licensing officers to ensure the satisfactory regulation of premises. For example, South Somerset District Council reported that their single police licensing officer was currently covering three large rural council areas, so was “unable to devote as much time as possible to consideration of individual applications”.354

376.A number of respondents argued that the police licensing function has also deteriorated in recent years. The view of Derbyshire Police was that while police powers were sufficient, they were often not being used effectively due to a lack of knowledge and training. They stated that “the role of the licensing officer is specialised and this is not recognised. Many police officers are under the impression that since the introduction of the 2003 licensing act, the police role is merely an administrative function and as such are not giving it much weight”.355

377.It was suggested to us by a number of respondents that alcohol licensing is often not taken seriously as a policing role—one respondent claimed that “whilst a lot of police forces have appointed licensing officers, a number have merged the role with others tasks, therefore diluting their ability to address licensing matters.  Additionally some forces have deleted the post and given it to unskilled staff alongside their other roles”.356 Hounslow Borough Council expressed similar sentiments, when they explained that:

“The biggest problem that we experience is that Police are not adequately trained to use their powers effectively. This is no fault of the individual officers, but the organisation as a whole. Officers are thrown into the role (often working alone or with one other officer) and are responsible for the whole borough’s licensed premises. It is a steep learning curve and understandably a lot of the early work (such as objections to applications) are not relevant or appropriate. We find that experience grows over time, but in our view officers are forced to learn on the job without any real understanding of the powers and constraints they have upon them.”357

378.Given the complexity of aspects of alcohol licensing law, and the low ratio of PLOs to licensed premises in many areas, we do not believe it is appropriate to over-burden these officers with other responsibilities. A wrong judgment call can have considerable consequences.

379.We are convinced that licensing is a sufficiently specialist and technical area of policing, requiring a distinct and professional body of police licensing specialists. Although we are aware of the many demands currently placed on police resources, the proper and attentive licensing of premises has a considerable if sometimes indirect impact on public reassurance and wider aspects of crime and disorder. It is therefore important that the role of police licensing officers should not be diluted or amalgamated, as evidence suggests is occurring in some constabularies. They do not need to be sworn police officers, and in many cases it may indeed be preferable that this role be performed by civilian police staff.


380.We have heard from a number of respondents that there is currently no standardised, national scheme for the training of police licensing officers. Overall, the quality and quantity of training in licensing, both for specialist licensing officers and police constables more generally, appears to be highly variable between forces. Hackney Borough Council reported that in their experience police officers were “often just thrust into the licensing team with little knowledge of the subject and are expected to learn on the job”.358 Very few local councils believed training in their local area to be satisfactory.

381.The London Borough of Hounslow were representative of many submissions when they stated: “we strongly believe that officers should undertake intense and comprehensive training before they start the role and that this should be complemented by a mentor within the police who has licensing experience.” They were also keen that “further and frequent refresher training” be provided.359

382.Police training with respect to licensing needs to address two groups. While specialist police licensing officers obviously require considerable training in licensing law and practice, many police constables will also require some degree of licensing knowledge for the performance of their routine duties. Indeed, it was the view of Birmingham City Council that more emphasis needed to be placed on the latter, as the knowledge of how to use police licensing powers is “focussed in the hands of a very small number of specialist police licensing officers”, and it would be “preferable if there was a greater awareness amongst the general neighbourhood police teams of their powers”.360 Indeed, it most likely to be a patrolling constable who will notice any obvious infringements of licensing conditions, and may be required to make use of closure powers in urgent situations.

383.Despite Birmingham City Council’s concerns, training for patrol officers on basic aspects of licensing law appear to already be provided by College of Policing training programmes. Sarah Newton MP told us that a module on “drug offences and substance misuse, which covers training on alcohol licensing matters” is now included in the two-year training course (known as the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme) which is provided to new recruits by the College of Policing.

384.However, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) position on the level of specialist training that should be provided to police licensing officers at the national level is presently unclear. We were informed by Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton of the NPCC that there was currently “a programme of development for people working in this area, which brings people up to speed and keeps them up to scratch and knowing what is expected of them”, and the level of training delivered that was “very high”.361

385.We were told that, on a national level, this consisted of annual conferences with between 100 and 120 attenders, with presentations given by between one and three barristers, covering a broad range of licensing subjects. In 2014 this amounted to seven and a half hours of training at national level on the subject of licensing.362 The subjects covered appeared to be disparate, and had no clear guiding themes.

386.However, in written evidence the NPCC noted that there was currently “no accredited national training or qualification specifically for police licensing officers. Training is currently being provided at a local force level, with little consistency.  There is no national requirement to train police officers with respect to licensing legislation.” The NPCC was therefore approaching the College of Policing “with a view to developing a national accreditation framework for the licensing training of police officers”.363

387.We believe an improvement in the quality and consistency of police licensing decision-making is necessary, and that the current and proposed schemes fall short of delivering this. A single day of non-compulsory national training per year, given to a limited number of attenders, on a national basis is clearly insufficient for a complex and nuanced area of policing, while an accreditation scheme is welcome but is unlikely to achieve its objectives unless the underlying programme of training on offer is improved and extended. The task of delivering this training should fall to the College of Policing, not to local forces.

388.We recommend the development and implementation of a comprehensive police licensing officer training programme, designed by the College of Policing. While we accept that such an undertaking will require additional funds, these costs will likely be more than offset if the quality of police licensing decisions is improved, thereby reducing the number of appeals and other corrective procedures.

Police evidence

389.The police, as a listed responsible authority under the Licensing Act 2003, are entitled to make representations at licensing hearings against applications they believe are likely to breach one of the four licensing objectives. Their claims should be supported by evidence, which in practice will often consist of incident logs or summaries showing patterns of crime or disorder linked to particular premises, or, in the case of an application for a new licence, in the area in which it is sought.

390.We heard several perspectives on the quality and consistency of the evidence presented by police representatives at hearings. The Local Government Association said that “the quality of the police evidence is critical in our decisions and they are much more conscious of the need for more robust evidence than they used to produce. The police train their staff better now in the Licensing Act and in the requirements of licensing committees.”364

391.However, the majority of witnesses with a view on this subject believed there to be serious flaws with the way that police representatives sometimes presented their evidence, with the quality and consistency of this evidence, and with the lack of scrutiny directed at this evidence by licensing committees. The National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers, for example, said they were concerned by the way many police forces presented evidence at hearings. They said that there was “an inconsistency in the process which needs addressing nationally by introducing guidelines.”365

392.Andrew Grimsey, of Poppleston Allen, highlighted how this worked in practice:

“There are two scenarios. There may be a review based on crime and disorder incidents at a premises and there is a summary of those incidents. Another review is brought by the police in a different area, and they disclose all of what you might call the first-capture report—the 999 calls, the whole lot. One will be several lever arch files thick; the other will be just a summary. The problem with the summary approach is that you cannot trust the data, because sometimes in those incidents there will be an A-board falling over or a refusal at the door—good compliance, if you like—and we cannot trust that; but, equally, if we are served with all the first-capture material, it costs thousands of pounds for a lawyer to go through it, so it is a difficult situation for a typical licensee to deal with.”366

393.A number of respondents also noted that licensing committees were often too ready to accept police evidence without applying sufficient scrutiny. Reba Danson of the Deltic Group argued that Councillors too often wanted to be seen to support police and other officers, “therefore even if a review is brought on weak and minimal evidence, Councillors are unlikely ever to simply dismiss an application as unwarranted, favouring the imposition of restrictions to ‘save face’, knowing the licence-holder is not in a position to challenge without incurring risks and costs.”367

394.Several witnesses drew our attention to paragraph 9.12 of the section 182 Guidance. This was amended in 2012 to state that:

“The police should be the licensing authority’s main source of advice on matters relating to the promotion of the crime and disorder licensing objective, but may also be able to make relevant representations with regard to the other licensing objectives if they have evidence to support such representations. The licensing authority should accept all reasonable and proportionate representations made by the police unless the authority has evidence that to do so would not be appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives.”368

395.The sentence that follows in the guidance, states that “it remains incumbent on the police to ensure that their representations can withstand the scrutiny to which they would be subject at a hearing”.369 John Gaunt, of John Gaunt and Partners, claimed this was too often not taken seriously, either by police or licensing committees.370

396.Kate Nicholls of the Association of Multiple Licensed Retailers argued that the wording of paragraph 9.12 was leading “local licensing officers and committees to accept without question whatever the police say, in terms of both evidence and recommendations”. The consequence, in their view, was “a sort of vacuum at the heart of licensing authority work, whereby the police are going without scrutiny in some of the things that are being said about matters that are very material to businesses and local residents.”371

397.It should also be noted that, in addition to paragraph 9.12, section 182 Guidance makes frequent additional reference to the importance of the police in relation to licensing law, and specifically to the importance of police advice and evidence, including in paragraph 2.1, which states that “licensing authorities should look to the police as the main source of advice on crime and disorder”.372

398.In contrast to the strong criticisms of paragraph 9.12 from industry representatives, most licensing authorities had little to say on this subject, with only Hounslow Borough Council expressing the view that it was appropriate for the Guidance to advise giving “greater weight to police representations”.373

399.A representative of the NPCC responded to these claims by defending the police use of evidence at licensing hearings. She stated that they expected there to be “rigour around the evidence that is presented” by police representatives, that the police did not have a “bigger position around the table than anyone else” and that they did not expect there to be any “overemphasis on the police evidence.”374

400.We believe it is highly likely that licensing committees will take police evidence seriously, especially if it is presented in a consistent and compelling fashion, regardless of whether they are required to by the section 182 Guidance. The risk that presently exists is that this additional emphasis could lead some licensing committees to partially or fully abdicate their responsibility to scrutinise police evidence to the same high standards as they would any other evidence. Our evidence suggests this is indeed occurring in some areas. It is entirely wrong that police evidence should be given more weight than it deserves solely because of its provenance.

401.Given evidence that paragraph 9.12 of the section 182 Guidance is being misinterpreted by licensing committees, and the fact that similar sentiments, more clearly stated, are already expressed in paragraph 2.1 of the Guidance, we recommend that paragraph 9.12 be removed.

Cumulative Impact Policy

402.A Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP, which implements what are commonly known as Cumulative Impact Areas or Special Policy Areas) is a tool outlined in the section 182 Guidance which allows local authorities to consider the ‘cumulative impact’ of all licensed premises in a specified area, in a way not normally permitted by the Licensing Act 2003.375 A CIP creates a rebuttable presumption against the grant of a new licence or a variation of an existing licence in certain ways. The application will normally be refused unless the applicant can demonstrate that they will not add to the negative cumulative impact in the area.

403.Based on data from the Office for National Statistics, 106 English and Welsh local authorities accounted for the 215 CIPs in place as at 31 March 2016. The number of CIPs reported in any given local authority area ranged from between one and eight.376

404.In order to introduce a CIP in a particular area, local authorities must receive a relatively high standard of evidence showing that the cumulative impact of licensed premises there is threatening to contravene one or more of the licensing objectives.

405.We heard a diverse range of opinions on CIPs over the course of the inquiry. Many local authorities and police forces believe them to be useful instruments, with Staffordshire Police for example arguing that “Cumulative Impact Policies are used effectively within Staffordshire and have assisted greatly in limiting the detrimental effect of excessive licensed premises within specific areas.”377

406.The Sunderland Health and Wellbeing Board claimed that the higher level of scrutiny they require from new applicants has resulted in a higher quality of licensed premises. In their view, CIPs encouraged applicants to consider more seriously “how best to ‘upgrade’ the quality of their application”, discouraging more disreputable “vertical drinking establishments”,378 in favour of “more upmarket restaurants and wine bars”.379

407.A number of industry representatives we have heard from opposed CIPs on principle. CAMRA described them as “blunt instruments”, which are “inappropriate in areas where there are still too many pubs closing every week.”380 Admiral Taverns argued that they should be “the exception rather than the norm as they restrict development and initiative and can allow stale ideas to become un-challenged.”381

408.The Policing and Crime Act 2017 includes a provision382 to place CIPs on a statutory footing. Local authorities who were aware of these plans were supportive of them, as were a number of industry representatives, with some caveats. The Association of Convenience Stores broadly welcomed the move, but argued that “primary legislation must stipulate a robust process for the introduction of a CIP at local level”. They also urged that evidence used to justify CIPs must be up to date and that “sunset clauses should also be applied at a local level to CIPs to ensure that they meet their objectives.”383

409.We support the Government’s current move to transfer Cumulative Impact Policies from the section 182 Guidance and to place them on a statutory footing, as this will introduce much needed transparency and consistency in this area.

410.However, it was pointed out to us that the wording of section 5(5A) of the Act introduced by the Policing and Crime Act 2017 had the potential to create confusion and unintended consequences. This states:

“A licensing authority may publish a document (“a cumulative impact assessment”) stating that the licensing authority considers that the number of relevant authorisations in respect of premises in one or more parts of its area described in the assessment is such that it is likely that it would be inconsistent with the authority’s duty under section 4(1) to grant any further relevant authorisations in respect of premises in that part or those parts.”

411.It is unclear from this wording whether local authorities will now be required to reject all new licence applications made in CIP areas, or whether, as is apparently intended, they retain the discretion currently set out in the section 182 Guidance, to authorise new licensed premises, if they are persuaded in each individual case that the grant of the licence is consistent with the licensing objectives.

412.We agree with criticism of the drafting of the new section 5(5A) of the Act, as it threatens to remove discretion from local authorities on how they may interpret their own cumulative impact policies.

Police closure powers, and powers of summary review

413.The police have a range of means by which they can close premises and expedite licence reviews, conferred upon them by the Licensing Act 2003 and related legislation, namely the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 and the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. There is, however, some degree of confusion among police and local authorities as to the correct implementation of these powers, and considerable room for clarification in this area.

414.In relation to police powers of closure and summary review in general, the views of the NPCC and some police forces were that they tended to be used sparingly—Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, of the Police Superintendents’ Association, for example, told us that police powers of closure and review were more often used to encourage businesses to improve their practices, and “does not necessarily denote that [a business] ends up being closed in the longer run”.384 In general, most police respondents thought that closure powers were often too complicated and restrictive to use, and that training on their use was insufficient.385

415.Several law firms representing licensees, on the other hand, suggested that police did not always understand their powers sufficiently or use them appropriately. Poppleston Allen noted that, after a serious incident or death at premises, there could be “a disconnect between the Police Licensing Officers on the ground (who know the individuals at licensed premises quite well and might favour a voluntary resolution) and their superiors, who may demand … that ‘something is done’. The result of this is often a closure notice or an Expedited Review but we question whether in all cases this is the appropriate tool. The effect on a licensed business of being temporarily closed (often for several weeks) until a full hearing can be catastrophic.”386

416.It should also be noted that the true extent to which police closure powers are used is currently unclear. Statistics on closure notices provided by the Home Office, for example, appear to show that only 73 closure notices were issued by police across England and Wales in 2015/16,387 and this same number was cited to us by Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton.388 However, after further investigation we ascertained that this figure relates only to closure notices issued under section 169A of the Licensing Act 2003 (pertaining to the sale of alcohol to those under the age of 18). It does not cover closure notices issued under section 76 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, and indeed no figures have been provided by the Home Office on the use of these powers. We have been assured by the Home Office that these statistics are now being collected, and will be made available for the 2016/17 financial year before the end of the calendar year. However, we were surprised to learn that the Home Office have not collected centralised figures on the use of relatively serious police powers until now, and that figures relating to section 169A closure notices are presented in such a confusing and misleading way.

Section 19 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001

417.Under section 19 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, police were given the power to serve a closure notice where the police were satisfied that “the unlicensed sale of intoxicating liquor” was occurring at a premises. In practice, this was used when police were satisfied that alcohol was being sold from premises that were not licensed at all to sell it. The Licensing Act 2003 amended this power to refer to the “unauthorised sale of alcohol” instead. The practical effect of this was that police started to use this power more broadly, in relation to any breach of a licence condition.

418.In November 2010, the Home Office issued guidance entitled Practical Guide for Preventing and Dealing with Alcohol Related Problems: What You Need to Know389, which indicated that the effect of a section 19 closure notice was that all licensable activities must cease immediately. Additionally, anyone who sold alcohol after a closure notice had been issued could be arrested or summonsed for a criminal offence under section 136 of the Act.

419.However in March 2012, in a judicial review brought by premises known as The Bank in Wakefield, the Home Secretary (1st Defendant) and West Yorkshire Police (2nd Defendant) agreed to the following Consent Order:

Box 7: The restricted effect of a closure notice

The Claimant and the First and Second Defendant accept that:

“The service of a Closure Notice pursuant to section 19 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 does not:

(a) require the premises to close or cease selling alcohol immediately; or

(b) entitle the Police to require it to do so; or

(c) entitle the Police to arrest a person on the sole ground of non-compliance with the Notice.”

Source: Order of the High Court (Administrative Court), 6 March 2012390

Additionally the Home Secretary and West Yorkshire Police each agreed to pay half the Claimant’s damages and costs.

420.The Home Office tell us that the guidance was withdrawn in 2011 after errors were discovered in the text, and that there are no plans to issue an updated version. Nevertheless it appears that the police still attempt to apply this misinformed approach to this day.

421.We recommend that the section 182 Guidance be amended to make clear that the service of a Closure Notice pursuant to section 19 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 does not:

Summary Reviews and the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006

422.The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 inserted sections 53A–53C into the Licensing Act 2003, bestowing upon the police the power to call for a Summary Review, if a senior officer believes that premises are associated with serious crime, serious disorder or both.391

423.Once an application for Summary Review has been submitted to a licensing authority, the sub-committee must decide within 48 working hours as to whether interim steps are necessary.392 These may include: the modification of conditions on a premises licence; excluding the sale of alcohol by retail from the licence; the removal of the designated premises supervisor from the licence; and the suspension of the licence for up to three months.

424.The next stage in the proceedings is a full review hearing, which operates in much the same way as an ordinary review, with responsible authorities and other interested parties being consulted in the usual way, with the resulting decision suspended for 21 days, or until the outcome of any appeal.

425.The difficulty with the Summary Review procedure has been with understanding what ought to happen to interim steps pending an appeal. Interim steps such as the suspension of a licence for up to three months, or excluding the sale of alcohol from the conditions of a licence, can have a serious impact on the sustainability of a business. Beds & Bars, which operate a chain of hostels in Britain and elsewhere, argued that while they had never been subject to a summary review,

“… we do think that a right of immediate appeal needs to be given to premises licence holders, in relation to a determination by the licensing sub-committee to re-impose interim steps, during any appeal period. The effect of suspension of a licence throughout a drawn- out appeal, following the conclusion of the final review, could destroy an otherwise legitimate business, before the review was able to be heard”.393

426.Fabric, a central London nightclub which was temporarily closed in 2016 as a result of a police summary review and the imposition of interim steps, after two drug-related deaths at the club, also submitted evidence to our Committee. While acknowledging the severe and tragic nature of what had occurred at their club, they believed that police were going well beyond the original purpose of the powers, which related to ‘serious crime’ or ‘serious disorder’, particularly relating to knife or gun crime.

427.In their view, as interim steps come “in advance of service of the evidence, let alone proof of the facts”, any steps which imply closure of a premises “should be confined to the most extreme cases”. While they accepted there was an argument “for such closure where there is a significant risk of death or serious injury if it is not closed, the statutory provisions go very much wider than that.” In relation to their own case, they suggested that “where management practices can be improved, there is no reason to shut the business down.” 394

428.When we asked District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe, who issued the most recent ruling on interim steps, she accepted that “an immediate ban on the sale of alcohol is a problem because it is a livelihood”, and there should therefore be a “very good reason” to resort to such measures.395 In a case in 2014,396 she explained that a “review closed the premises and there was an appeal. The licensed premises said that, because they had appealed, all the conditions came back and so they could sell alcohol. The ruling I gave was that the interim steps continued”. In her view, “if there are interim steps and there is a ban, as far as I am aware it will continue until the appeal. That depends on the interim steps, so there is a procedure for doing that”.

429.The Institute of Licensing, in response to our call for evidence, surveyed their members on the subject, and just over 50% believed that police “did not have sufficient training” to use their powers appropriately, while just over 15% believed they did. One licensing officer stated that “the closure powers and the s53A reviews do give police wide-ranging powers”, but questioned whether the resources and training existed to allow these powers to be used “proportionately and effectively”.397

430.The Home Office has already taken note of the limited and contradictory cases that have been considered in the courts on this point, and amendments to the powers have been made by the Policing and Crime Act 2017.398 The proposals would give a licensing committee discretion to revisit interim steps at the review stage, and provides a right of expedited appeal to the Magistrates against that decision. These amendments are likely to resolve the difficulties that were highlighted in the Courts in relation to Summary Review.

431.We sympathise with the police, practitioners and businesses who cannot always fully comprehend the complex process surrounding interim steps. We conclude that instead of conferring discretion upon the sub-committee to impose further interim steps upon a licensee pending appeal, a discretion to impose with immediate effect the determination that the sub-committee reached upon the full review would be preferable. This final decision must represent the sub-committee’s more mature reflection upon the situation, based upon the most up to date evidence, and this ought to be the decision that binds the licensee, if immediacy is a requirement, rather than the superseded interim steps.

Closure powers under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

432.Section 76 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 grants police the power to issue a closure notice or order, if on reasonable grounds they are satisfied that the use of the premises has resulted or (if the notice or order is not issued) is likely soon to result in crime or disorder. Specifically, for a 48 hour closure notice, there must have been, or it is likely there will be, nuisance to the public or disorder near the premises, or, in the case of a closure order of up to six months, disorderly, offensive or criminal behaviour, serious nuisance to the public or disorder near the premises.

433.In the view of Fabric Life Limited, which runs the well-known London nightclub Fabric, “this entire chain reaction may be triggered and pursued even where no offence has been committed or was ever likely to be committed, and regardless of whether the issues concerned were the fault of the management of the venue or were remediable through partnership action between the Police and the management.”399

434.The NPCC were also concerned about how section 76 powers could be applied, noting that they were “far more complex with regards its procedural requirements” than the section 161 powers originally contained within the Licensing Act 2003 and could be, in some circumstances “operationally impossible to adhere to”.400 In contrast with Fabric, however, they believed these powers to be, overall, “far too restrictive”.

435.Any decision by the licensing sub-committee to revoke a premises licence at a mandatory review hearing after the imposition of a closure order made under section 80 or 84 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 must take immediate effect, subject only to paragraph 18(4) of Schedule 5 to the 2014 Act (power of magistrates’ court to modify closure order pending appeal).

436.Within the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, the power of the magistrates to “modify” the closure order is curious wording, which has already perplexed the magistrates’ courts, given that the magistrates are just as likely to be invited to exercise their power to lift the revocation and re-open premises at a time when the original closure order has expired as they are during the currency of that closure order. We recommend a clarification of this wording.

353 Q 28 (David Banks, Executive Manager Neighbourhoods, Rushcliffe Borough Council)

354 Written evidence from South Somerset District Council (LIC0019)

355 Written evidence from Derbyshire Police (LIC0028)

356 Written evidence from James Mooney (LIC0008)

357 Written evidence from London Borough of Hounslow (LIC0025)

358 Written evidence from London Borough of Hackney (LIC0136)

359 Written evidence from London Borough of Hounslow (LIC0025)

360 Written evidence from Birmingham City Council Licensing and Environmental Health (LIC0141)

361 Q 143 (Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton, National Police Chiefs’ Council)

362 Written evidence from National Police Chiefs’ Council (LIC0166)

363 Written evidence from National Police Chiefs’ Council (LIC0166)

364 Q 28 (Councillor Tony Page, Deputy Leader, Reading Borough Council and Licensing Champion, Local Government Association)

365 Written evidence from National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers (LIC0148)

366 Q 119 (Andrew Grimsey, Solicitor, Poppleston Allen)

367 Written evidence from Reba Danson (LIC0125)

368 Home Office, Revised Guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 (March 2015), paragraph 9.12: [accessed 10 March 2017]

369 Ibid.

370 Q 119 (John Gaunt, Partner, John Gaunt and Partners)

371 Q 93 (Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers)

372 Home Office, Revised Guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 (March 2015), paragraph 2.1: [accessed 10 March 2017]

373 Written evidence from London Borough of Hounslow (LIC0025)

374 Q 143 (Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton, National Police Chiefs’ Council)

375 Prof Roy Light (LIC0168) noted that CIPs represent a very limited reversion to the situation prior to 1999, where applicants for new licences were required to prove there was an unmet “need” or “demand” for new premises in a particular area.

377 Written evidence from Staffordshire Police (LIC0037)

378 Written evidence from Sunderland Health and Wellbeing Board (LIC0110)

379 Ibid.

380 Q 84 (Tim Page, Chief Executive, Campaign for Real Ale)

381 Written evidence from Admiral Taverns (LIC0124)

382 Section 141. This provision will not however be brought into force when the majority of the provisions of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 which relate to licensing are commenced on 6 April 2017.

383 Written evidence from Association of Convenience Stores (LIC0086)

384 Q 140 (Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, Police Superintendents Association of England and Wales)

385 Written evidence from NPCC (LIC0115), Durham Constabulary (LIC0045), Sussex Police (LIC0042)

386 Written evidence from Poppleston Allen (LIC0105)

387 Home Office, ‘Alcohol and late night refreshment licensing England and Wales (31 March 2016), Tables 13a and 14b: [accessed 10 March 2017]

388 Q 140 (Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton, National Police Chiefs’ Council)

389 Home Office, Practical Guide for Preventing and Dealing with Alcohol Related Problems: What You Need to Know (Third Edition, November 2010)

390 R (on the application of The Bar (Wakefield) Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and West Yorkshire Police

391 While serious crime is defined according to section 81(2) and (3)(a) and (b) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, serious disorder is not currently well defined.

392 However, section 53A(5) of the Act notes that “in computing the period of 48 hours mentioned in subsection (2)(a) time that is not on a working day is to be disregarded.”

393 Written evidence from Beds & Bars (LIC0114)

394 Written evidence from Fabric Life Limited (LIC0157)

395 Q 128 (District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe, Westminster Magistrates’ Court)

396 The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police v Mayfair Realty Ltd (The Lord Mayor and the Citizens of the City of Westminster, Interested Party), Westminster Magistrates’ Court, 22 July 2014—this is the case we refer to in Box 3 (paragraph 177), as demonstrating the importance of precedent in appellate decisions relating to licensing. As we explain in paragraph 179 a new section 53D, which attempts to resolve this issue, will be brought into force on 6 April 2017 by the Policing and Crime Act 2017 (Commencement No. 1 and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/399).

397 Written evidence from Institute of Licensing (LIC0126)

398 Home Office, Impact Assessment, Policing and Crime Bill: Summary Reviews and arrangements for interim steps (22 December 2015), p 6: [accessed 10 March 2017]

399 Written evidence from Fabric Life Limited (LIC0157)

400 Written evidence from NPCC (LIC0115)

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