Over the Christmas period, the tills will hopefully ring as customers stream into your pubs or clubs to enjoy the festive fun. However, with the increase in numbers and the fact that many customers over Christmas will not be regulars and maybe drinking differently, there is a risk that issues can arise.
Michelle Hazlewood, partner at John Gaunt & Partners, has put together a number of thoughts for licensees to consider. Although these are particularly important at this time of year, they are also relevant all year round.
Is your paperwork in order?
You should anticipate inspections over Christmas and New Year from licensing enforcement officers and the police, who will be checking that all the required documentation is held or displayed. The key requirements are:
• Certified copy of the Premises Licence on site available on demand
• Certified copy of Premises Licence Summary prominently displayed in a public part of the premises
• Gaming Machine Permits available onsite
• Up-to-date form of authorisation for all staff to sell alcohol – remember this must include seasonal staff
• Form of nomination on display authorising DPS to have custody and control of the Premises Licence
• Training records
• Refusal and incident log
Are all your customers really customers?
This falls into two categories:
1. The first is to consider if the customer is in fact a police officer, or from trading standards or weights and measures. The amount of test purchasing or compliance checking will be increased over this period. All staff should be briefed and/or re-trained on the premise’s age verification policy and the implementation of either Challenge 21 or Challenge 25.
2. The second is to consider the customer who takes from other customers or even yourself. We have heard from police forces around the country that there has been an increase in organised thefts by criminal groups. You need to ensure that staff are aware of the risk, and if an item is reported stolen, you must take the allegation seriously and notify the police.
Are you in control?
With the increase in trade, you need to ensure that you continue to provide a safe environment. A key resource in achieving this will be the use of SIA door staff. However:
• Resource your SIA door staff from a reputable accredited company.
• Keep records of their name, badge number and when they were onsite.
• Ensure that following any incident, relevant documentation and reports are completed.
• Finally, make sure the door staff understand the nature of your business and the requirement to report to you issues as they arise.
To happy hour or not to happy hour?
One of the mandatory conditions on every Premises Licence requires you to consider if any of your offers constitute an irresponsible promotion. There is no absolute criteria for a promotion to become irresponsible, you need to consider the length the promotion will run, the potential draw and the numbers of customers who may participate. Clearly the strength of the drinks included will be a factor, as will the amount and pricing.
John Gaunt & Partners wish you a great Christmas period, and should you need any legal advice we have a 24 hour helpline available: 0114 266 3400.