John Gaunt & Partners authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority - SRA No. 173393.
Solicitors of England & Wales
© John Gaunt & Partners 2013. All rights reserved worldwide.
The Power to Inspect and Close13 April 2012
As part of the Government’s Alcohol Strategy, there is an intention to widen the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 in relation to who can inspect premises. This, by default, may also affect who can serve a Closure Order.
Under Sections 59 and 161 of the Act these powers are expressly reserved to a Constable, otherwise known as a Warranted Police Constable.
The intention is to widen that definition so as to include Police Community Support Officers, better known as PCSOs. The Alcohol Strategy stipulates that the Government is aware that “increasing numbers of licensing teams are now made up of PCSOs and will therefore explore the benefit of an additional discretionary power for PCSOs to enter licensed premises”.
The Alcohol Strategy indicates that PCSOs would be working with Police Constables, however, that position would appear not to be the case potentially going forward. Today South Yorkshire Police have issued their PCSO plan which is, in the Chief Constable’s own words for PCSOs, to become “the public’s first line of contact with a view that PCSOs powers would be enhanced so that they can deal with more incidents and do not require a Police Constable with the power of arrest”.
The consequence for the licensed trade is that there will be an increased number of individuals capable of undertaking inspections and potentially, depending upon how the amendments are worded, serving Closure Orders. Although those individuals provide a valuable resource to policing generally, they will not have the same level of training and thereby knowledge of the specialist area of licensing law and its operation. We have recently seen how the law can be easily misconstrued with adverse consequences for the trade…See our article on Closure Notices.