Police bid to defy CPS advice over absent licence-holders

May 2006

Live event industry

South Yorkshire Police are hoping to prosecute a Barnsley licensee for going on holiday and leaving a person in charge who did not hold a personal licence to sell alcohol – despite advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that “no offence had taken place”. The Publican reports that the police policy is against guidance from the Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) and LACORS, the local authority co-ordinating body. The case revolves around Tracy Elrington, who was forced to return from a holiday in Spain after her pub, the Mount in Barnsley, was the subject of a closure order because there was no one with a personal licence was present to sell alcohol at the premises.There is some confusion over whether the holder of the premises licence, who must authorise the sale of alcohol, need be present. This is coupled with the fact that closure orders are available to the police where there is disorder, or an imminent risk of disorder, breaking out. So the problem with the Police’s view is that the move to prosecute is a difficult one to justify: Admittedly there seems to be a lack of clarity in the Licensing Act 2003 on the interpretation of how long a personal licence-holder may be absent from the premises; and it is even more difficult to tie that absence into the use of closure orders as there is no clear link between the absence of licence holder leading to a real or potential threat (imminent or otherwise) of disorder or wrongdoing on the facts of this case.

The Publican 6 th April 2006

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