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Licensing news England and Wales - April 2018

This month in summary

Licensing News

Royal wedding reminder: extended hours for on-sales of alcohol only

The Government has published their draft order for extending on-sales of alcohol and provision of hot food for those premises opening to sell alcohol on the premises on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 May 2018 until 1am each day. As previously stated, the extension will not apply to provision of regulated entertainment and therefore any premises wishing to provide music other than background music or wishing to provide any other form of regulated entertainment outside of their normal hours (or after 11pm if relying on the live music or recorded music exemptions to provide such entertainment up until 11pm) Will need to apply for a TEN. The last date for submission of a TEN to begin at 11pm on Friday 18 May will be Wednesday 2 May, with the last date for a late TEN being Thursday 10 May.

The Order is expected to be published imminently and follows previous orders for special occasions in only applying for on-licensed premises and not including regulated entertainment.

Safeguarding: Protecting vulnerable customers and children

Recently we were made aware of police officers undertaking safeguarding testing at a hotel in London. The intention was to see whether the reception staff were assessing whether there was a potential issue in terms of the safeguarding of the child. At the same time, a hotel chain suffered embarrassment where the police were contacted over safeguarding concerns when a man and girl booked to stay but it turned out they were father and daughter visiting a patient at the local hospital.

The above cases demonstrate how important it is, but also how fraught with difficulties it can be to deal with safeguarding matters. However, doing nothing is not an option. There is an increasing awareness that premises open to the public, along with taxis and other services, are on the front line when it comes to identifying potential issues relating to the exploitation of vulnerable people - be they children or others.

For example, should a pub allow a customer who is intoxicated and disorientated leave their premises on their own or with someone that seems to be exerting control over them? Should a taxi driver turn a blind eye to an adult and child where there seems to be no filial relationship or other signs of distress on the part of the child? Of course, enquiring of individuals in these circumstances can be embarrassing, but where the only other option is to say nothing and simply hope that nothing bad happens to the individual, the old adage that it's better to be safe than sorry should really be at the forefront of people's minds.

It goes further than this, of course. Whilst there is no 'safeguarding' licensing objective, safeguarding falls within both the prevention of crime and disorder and also protection of children from harm objectives. As such, if a victim of an attack traces its genesis back to your premises, or worse, the attack happens in your premises (and it could well do - particularly where you have letting rooms), it is likely that scrutiny will fall on whether there were any chances to have prevented the attack that were missed.

Where there is a genuine lack of identifying signals and where it can be shown that staff are at least aware to look out for signs of vulnerability, then clearly there is no case to answer; but where it can be shown that operators missed clear opportunities to either intervene or at least ask a question, there is a potential case to answer that the licensing objectives have been breached.   

If you are in any doubt about the seriousness of the issue, simply try this thought experiment: If your teenage daughter was going out on the town, what actions would you expect operators, taxi drivers, police and others to take to keep her safe? It may not be much more than checking she is old enough to come into a venue, or is getting home safely afterwards; but it is certainly something that will become more of a focus as our understanding of how many opportunities to intervene to prevent harm can be missed. 

Top Licensing Tip: Updating a personal licence

If you work in licensed premises and in particular if you are a DPS, do not forget that a change of personal details, such as change of address or change of name, need to be notified to the licensing authority as soon as reasonably practicable after the event. To fail to do so is a criminal offence. There is a £10.50 application fee for making the change. Some authorities will not process change of DPS applications if they find the applicant has not updated details, so it is worth bearing this in mind if you are moving house or changing your name.

Gambling News

Neil McArthur Appointed Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission

The Gambling Commission has announced that Neil McArthur has been appointed as Chief Executive with immediate effect. He had previously been acting as Interim CEO since Sarah Harrison MBE left the organisation at the end of February.

Gambling Commission proposals to make online gambling safer

The Gambling Commission has published proposed changes and actions deemed necessary to improve the safety of online gambling. The proposed changes and action include:

  • Further protecting children by banning operators from providing free-to-play demo games until a consumer’s age has been determined
  • Improving the speed and effectiveness of age verification processes
  • Ensuring operators set limits on consumers’ spending until affordability checks have been conducted
  • Tackling unacceptable marketing and advertising and unfair terms, and improving complaints and disputes procedures
  • Strengthening requirements to interact with consumers who may be experiencing, or are at risk of developing, problems with their gambling.

Further work is also being undertaken by the commission to further strengthen online player power and identify areas likely to cause greater harm to players. This is due to take place over the coming year.

Out and about

Easter holidays aside, April has seen us covering the length and breadth of the country, including Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Swansea and London for various clients and meetings. As always, the first buds of Spring herald complaints by residents about noisy drinkers and blocked pavements. Always worth trying to start the outdoor season on the right foot, so dig out the old policies and remind staff of their responsibilities… and try to enjoy the sunshine! 

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at April 2018. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

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