Gallery: Police start Christmas licensing laws campaign
A TWO night tour of pubs, clubs and supermarkets heralded the start of a Christmas campaign to ensure Fenland businesses are staying within the licensing laws. On Friday and Saturday a team of police officers, PCSOs and council legal and licensing officer
A TWO night tour of pubs, clubs and supermarkets heralded the start of a Christmas campaign to ensure Fenland businesses are staying within the licensing laws.
On Friday and Saturday a team of police officers, PCSOs and council legal and licensing officers, toured premises in Wisbech and March checking on licences and ensuring conditions are being met.
Sector inspector Andy Sullivan briefed the team at March on Saturday night and promised a "high visibility" effort.
"In the run up to Christmas issues of drinking increase and we increase our staff accordingly to deal with," he said.
On Friday the licensing team toured Wisbech, and found a handful of premises in breach of their licences. One club, SR Taste, was found to be in breach of their licence by only opening with one doorman when they had promised to have two.
What may have sounded like a draconian reaction (the club was given a closure order), in reality the process allows time for the premises to get back on track and stay open.
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"It's called a closure notice but premises can carry on trading if they comply with the licence conditions," said Ian Hunt, Fenland Council's legal services manager. "The fact is the club can stop selling alcohol or comply with the conditions.
"If he starts complying nothing further will happen, but he will be checked every day."
Although the conditions sound tough, Insp Sullivan believes it's the only way to ensure public order offences keep to a minimum.
He operates what he describes as a traffic lights system, giving licensed premises green for a clean bill of health, amber if there has been one complaint, and red if there has been more than one complaint from different agencies.
One of the premises visited by the team in Wisbech, said Mr Hunt, received a caution for not having CCTV working properly.
"We had visited before and it seems the owner was making no moves to get in repaired," said Mr Hunt. "That's clearly a breach of the licence."
In March on Saturday, as photographer Brian Purdy and I joined the team for their evening tour, we saw few problems, save for a group of youngsters drinking in the street. They hid their glasses and fled before police could tackle them and land them with an on the spot fine.
In general the town was quiet, but reports of a customer threatening a pub landlord in Whittlesey was noted by the team for a future visit.
Pub chains that take a casual approach to temporary managers also give rise for concern, and with the current economic climate more pubs than ever are being opened by agency staff.
Insp Sullivan defended the team's weekend work, offering the thought that prevention was the better way forward to tackle potential drinking issues in places such as March.
And it's not only pubs, clubs and supermarkets that need to look out for the enforcement squad- they are also looking to ensure taxi drivers stay within the law.
"We aim to make sure the right drivers are with the right taxis," said Mr Hunt. "We're here to make sure standards are adhered to.