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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act



This is the Act whose primary function is the introduction of elected police commissioners and it is this aspect of the Act which has been most widely publicised.

However part 2 of the Act deals with changes to the licencing regime these changes will have considerable significance for the management of Bath’s night time economy. The main changes brought in by the Act are summarised below:

The Licensing Act 2003 defines responsible authorities as including the police, fire authorities, local authorities exercising health and safety, local planning, environmental health and child protection functions, and any licensing authorities (other than the relevant licensing authority) in whose area the premises are situated. The relevant licensing authority, in our case BANES, is currently is not a "responsible authority".
Only responsible authorities can make representations in relation to applications for the grant or variation of a premises licence or club premises certificate, or request the review of licences.

This Act introduces amendments to bring BANES licencing department within the definition of "responsible authority".

The Act also makes the local Primary Care Trust a responsible authority.

Under the Licensing Act 2003 ‘interested parties’ (persons who can make an application for review or representations) must have a particular relationship to the vicinity of the premises (for example, by living in the vicinity or being involved in a business in the vicinity). This Act removes this test of ‘vicinity’ from the Licensing Act. This will enable any person to make representations in relation to applications for the grant or variation of a premises licence or club premises certificate. However, all representations will need to relate to the licensing objectives and must not be frivolous or vexatious.

The Licensing Act 2003 imposes a general duty on BANES to exercise their licensing functions with a view to promoting the licensing objectives; the objectives are the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm. The 2003 Act requires BANES to take steps which are "necessary" for the promotion of the objectives.

This Act amends this by requiring licensing authorities to take steps which are "appropriate" for the promotion of the objectives. This has the effect of reducing the threshold which licensing authorities must meet.

The Licensing Act 2003 currently includes a scheme which enables an individual to carry on a licensable activity, on a temporary basis. To hold a temporary event the event holder (‘premises user’) must send a temporary event notice to the licensing authority and the Chief Officer of Police at least 10 working days before the event. The Chief Officer, if satisfied that the temporary event would undermine the crime prevention objective, must send an objection notice to the licensing authority and premises user no later than 48 hours after receipt of the temporary event notice.

Police objections trigger a requirement on the licensing authority to hold a hearing and may result in a counter notice being sent to the premises user if the licensing authority agrees that the temporary event would undermine the crime prevention objective. If a counter notice is issued, the temporary event notice will no longer authorise any licensable activities.

This Act extends the right to object to a temporary event notice to the environmental health authority, and allows the police and the environmental health authority to object to a temporary event. It also allows licensing authorities to issue a counter notice under section on the basis of all four of the licensing objectives.
This Act introduces the new category of ‘relevant person’, and revises and adapts the processes governing objections from relevant persons; these relate to the holding of a hearing or modification of a temporary event notice following receipt of objections from one or more relevant persons.

This Act enables BANES to impose conditions on a temporary event notice if it considers that this promotes the licensing objectives. A licensing authority can only impose such conditions if an objection has been made by at least one relevant person, and at least a part of the premises in relation to which the temporary event notice is given is already subject to a premises licence or club premises certificate.

The Act allows the premises user to give a limited number of temporary event notices in a shorter timeframe to the existing temporary event notice process. This is defined as a "late temporary event notice". A temporary event notice which is given in accordance with the existing timeframe is defined as a "standard temporary event notice". An objection from at least one relevant person to a "late temporary event notice" will result in a counter notice being issued. This will make the late temporary event notice ineffective.
The Act extends the period in which a relevant person can object to a temporary event notice from two to three working days.

The Licensing Act 2003 makes it an offence for a premises licence holder, or person who has given a temporary event notice, to sell alcohol on two or more occasions in a three month period to a child. On conviction, a person is liable to a fine not exceeding £10,000. This amendment increases the maximum fine to £20,000.

This Act enables the police and trading standards officers to issue a closure notice to a person for whom there is evidence that they have committed an offence for which there is a reasonable prospect of conviction. The closure notice discharges the person from any further criminal liability but prevents them from selling alcohol for the period specified in the notice. This act increases that period from a maximum of 48 hours to a period of between 48 hours and 336 hours.

The Licensing Act 2003 contain powers to make regulations to prescribe the annual fees payable by the holders of premises licences and club premises certificates.  A fee which is not paid on the due date can be recovered as a debt due to a licensing authority. No other sanction for non-payment of an annual fee is available to a licensing authority. This Act requires a licensing authority to suspend a licence or certificate for non-payment of an annual fee if certain conditions are met.

This Act enables BANES to introduce a levy payable by the holders of a premises licence or club premises certificate if they are authorised to supply alcohol between midnight and 6am.





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