Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Act Is Intended to Help Reduce Drink-Related Crime

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Act Is Intended to Help Reduce Drink-Related Crime

Article excerpt

Byline: By James Thompson

Recent changes to the licensing laws have caused much debate in the national media, but do we fully understand the details behind it? James Thompson, associate of law firm Eversheds LLP, explains the necessary procedures.

As an integral part of the Government strategy to combat alcohol-related crime, the Licensing Act 2003 came into force last week.

The Act allows licensed operators greater commercial flexibility in relation to operating hours, with features including the single premises licence which has removed the need for separate permissions for entertainment and the sale of alcohol.

In addition, the creation of a personal licence allows greater flexibility for persons within the leisure industry to move from premises to premises without the need for time consuming bureaucracy.

The Act also introduces a requirement for persons selling hot food to the public after 11pm and before 5am to obtain a premises licence. This previously unregulated area is now brought under the umbrella of the Act and even if alcohol is not sold with the hot food, the premises must still be licensed.

This aspect of the new law brings in many thousands of establishments previously unregulated other than standard food safety obligations.

Those persons involved in these areas have to remember that the new Licensing Authorities, which will be local councils, will carry out their func- tions with a view to promoting the four licensing objectives set out in the Act.

They are:

* The prevention of crime and disorder

* Public safety

* The prevention of public nuisance

* The protection of children from harm.

The Act supports these objectives by creating a powerful regulatory system. In fact, overall, 53 offences have been created by the new Act which can be committed not only by the premises and personal licence holders but any person on licensed premises. Those applying for a premises licence need to be aware of the following procedures:

An application to the Licensing Authority needs to be made which should include a plan of the premises, the agreed fee based on the rateable value of the premises, and most importantly an operating schedule which contains details of all the relevant licensable activities (sale of alcohol, live music and dancing etc). …

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