Although it is quite unusual for Licensing Officers to give you advance notice of a Licensing inspection, we have recently had clients presented with this situation and consequently, we have produced some tips for dealing with these inspections.

An inspection may cover numerous things and they can be a little difficult to prepare for, but there are some standard arrangements a licensee can make:

  • If you have advance notice of an inspection, spend a little time researching your Inspector. Find out how experienced they are and whether they have a good understanding of licensed businesses and premises.
  • Know what the inspector will check. This sounds obvious but there are numerous things they will be looking for. It is likely that they will check that you have everything on site that you should have and are displaying everything you should be. In all probability, they will bring the approved plans with them and check that they accord with the layout of the premises and will check that you/your staff are aware of the hours and conditions attached to the Licence. You should ensure that you, your managers and your staff know where your Licence, authorisations, incident logs, refusals books, training records and risk assessments are ready for inspection. Please also ensure that all fire escape routes are free of obstructions at all times.
  • Ensure refusals books and incident logs are properly completed and reviewed by duty managers from time to time and that staff are aware of the importance of completing such logs. You should also ensure that if you operate a Challenge 21 or 25 Policy, appropriate signage is displayed and staff are trained to understand what the Policy means and how to apply it.
  • Familiarise yourself with the hours and conditions on your Licence itself. You should read the full document, and establish what your Licence authorises, whether it be the sale of alcohol on and off the premises, hot food and hot drink, or regulated entertainment. You should also establish if your Licence has any restrictions, for example, music, dance or films being restricted to certain rooms.
  • Check that all necessary documents are retained/displayed. Essentially, the certified copy Summary needs to be displayed near the main entrance to the Premises, together with the ‘Duty to Display’ document. There is now no requirement to display a separate ‘plaque’ over the main door (this was a requirement of the old regime that disappeared in 2005, although it seems to be a common misconception that this is still required). The certified copy of the full Premises Licence and approved plans need to be retained in a safe place, together with the Personal Authorisation (although these do not need to be displayed). All members of staff should be aware of the location.
  • Make your staff aware of what questions may be asked by the Licensing Officer. Any enforcement officer may ask any member of staff:
    • Who is authorising the sale of alcohol (i.e. who is the Designated Premises Supervisor and the other personal licence holders?)
    • Where is the Licence Summary and Duty to Display?
    • Where is the full copy Premises Licence and can they inspect it?
    • Where is the authorisation for non-personal licence holders to serve alcohol?
  • Ensure you have adequate numbers of personal licence holders to provide proper cover for your Premises. The Licensing Act specifies that all supplies of alcohol must be authorised by a personal licence holder.