Presentation by the Licensing Officer
The Sub-Committee was informed that this was an application for the review of a premises licence. The Sub-Committee’s attention was drawn to chapters 2, 3, 9, 10 and 11 of the Statutory Guidance, and to Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13 and 19 of the Statement of Licensing Policy, as the ones particularly relevant to this application. The options available to the Sub-Committee were set out in paragraph 6.2 on page 38 of the agenda papers.
The Licensing Officer confirmed:
· The premises licence holder was Mr Nadeem.
· A copy of the application could be found on page 39 of the agenda papers.
· A review of the premises licence had been requested by Lambeth Trading Standards Officer, Mr Bernard Conmy, on the licensing objectives of the prevention of Crime and Disorder , Public Safety and the prevention of public nuisance.
· The application was supported by the Police, Licensing team and a Ward Councillor.
· Pictures supporting the review application could be found on page 51 of the agenda papers.
· If the Sub-Committee was not minded to revoke the licence, then suggested additional conditions have been submitted by the licensing manager and could be found on page 62 of the agenda papers.
· Emails of support for the shop from local residents and the licensee’s agent can be found from page 65 of the report.
· The premises had held a premises licence from July 2005.When the licence was awarded the premises had nominated a DPS , however, this person had ceased to perform these functions at the premises in the last five years (understood to be from 2009).
· A copy of the premises licence could be found on page 71 of the agenda papers.
Presentation by the applicant
Mr Bernard Conmy, Trading Standards Officer informed the Sub-Committee that:
· The premises is located in a mixed residential and commercial area.
· Page 51 of the agenda papers displayed the William Hill sign located along a series of shops and was a well-recognised betting shop in the area.
· He had established that there was a group of male individuals who loitered in the vicinity of the premises and next to the betting shop and drank alcohol outside regularly.
· The betting shop is understood to be well run and drinking was not allowed inside.
· The groups of individuals congregating at the front of the premises comprised generally the same people.
· It was understood that the group brought alcohol from the premises and loitered in front of the neighbouring property which was an unattended premises.
· The group in question smoked cannabis, drank alcohol and had verbal altercations with passers by.
· The individuals often made offensive comments towards female passers by who had reported various forms of sexual harassment.
· The Police have tried to investigate and work with the group. However, they often behaved well when Police were present.
· He had visited the premises in April 2013 and found open bottles of alcohol and the premises appeared to be being used as if it were a bar with an on licence.
· This behaviour contradicted the terms of the premises licence which did not permit the consumption of Alcohol on the premises. If people observed others drinking inside the premises, that would influence others to enter the premises and drink alcohol.
· Thirty-one bottles of illicit spirits had been found at the premises. These were UK duty not paid or duty diverted items. Eight bottles of alcohol found were determined to be counterfeit products.
· If counterfeit products for consumption were ever sold, then the content of the product could never be known, particularly to the consumer.
· The Portman Group has advised against stocking 500ml containers of super strength alcohol partly because it promoted excessive drinking.
· Open bottles of spirits and plastic cups had been found on the premises. This was a breach of the alcohol licence.
· Mr Aslam had been named DPS but was not contactable.
· The premises licence holder had reported that he had made a mistake and brought spirits from a “white van man” and recognised there was a problem with the group that loitered outside the premises.
· The DPS had left the premises five years ago and subsequently the premises had been selling alcohol illegally for the last five years as there was a condition to sell alcohol only when there was a DPS present at the premises. The premises licence holder should be aware of this due to his status as premises licence holder.
· This was a difficult case as there were two licenced premises in the vicinity where the group would loiter.
· The other licenced premises (a betting shop) was understood to be well run.
· There was a problem with street drinkers in the area.
· Smuggled alcohol and duty not paid items were offences serious enough for the Sub-Committee to seriously consider a revocation of the licence, even on the first occasion.
· If the Sub-Committee was minded to place additional conditions on the licence then they were recommended to add that no miniature spirits were to be sold and to restrict the sale of cider in bottles of 1.5 litres and above in capacity”. .
In response to questions from Members, Mr Conmy informed the Sub-Committee that:
· In 2008 the premises had failed a test purchase exercise and alcohol had been sold to an underage test purchaser., In April 2010 the premises had sold counterfeit alcohol and in February 2012 there had been an illegal sale of tobacco.. Although the council operated a three strikes policy this was often difficult to apply because other factors had to be considered, such as the period of time over which these incidents took place and whether there had been changes in management in the meantime. A three strikes policy would usually be applied to incidents occurring over a period of two years.
· One of the incidents involved tobacco and was therefore i not directly a Licensing Act 2003 issue. Trading Standards may have contacted the premises in 2008 by telephone.
· When he had spoken to the premises licence holder, Mr Nadeem finally admitted that a DPS had not been present at the premises for several years.
· With regard to paragraph five of page 47 of the agenda papers, it was not known who the caution had been issued to, however, a caution had been issued.
· Trading Standards carried out test purchases on a number of premises across the borough. Letters were sent to all premises that passed the test. The premises success in passing previous test purchases was noted however this issue was not being used as a basis for this review.
· Police had examined the group that loitered outside and had reported that the group was problematic and difficult.
· When uniformed Police would be present in the area, the group would be well behaved but when the Police were not present, their behaviour would change.
· The premises licence holder appreciated that there was a problem with the group outside but was not overly concerned with the issue.
· For most types of retail alcohol such as lager -the usual limit for alcohol by volume (ABV) was 6%. Fosters had a level of 4% abv and Carlsberg Special Brew had a level of 9% abv.
· The preferred limit would be 6% abv for these premises.
· The premises licence holder could have taken various steps to rectify various aspects of his situation such as replace the DPS but had not done so.
· The premises licence holder has recently applied to be the DPS but only when he was about to appear before the Sub-Committee.
Presentation by the interested parties
PC Hannah Eldridge informed the Sub-Committee that:
· She had read the application for the review and agreed with Mr Conmy’s submission.
· Mr Conmy had outlined illegal offences committed such as illegal alcohol being displayed for consumption at the premises and that the premises had operated for five years without a DPS.
· The premises licence holder was aware of what practices should be occurring at the premises.
· The premises licence holder was the individual who would be prosecuted for selling alcohol to underage individuals.
· It was illegal to sell alcohol to children.
· Passing a test purchase exercise simply indicated that the business was being run legally and the premises did not have to be commended for this. Although it was acknowledged that some test purchases had been passed, the premises staff had committed an offence by having failed one test purchase.
· The premises licence holder had since been operating within legal parameters. However, this should have been done previously.
· The premises had always been observed to be open.
· She had spoken to PC Burton who had reported that there were problems with anti-social behaviour in the area.
· She had spoken to the staff at the William Hill betting shop. Some stringent enquires had been made with regard to the premises and they were considered to be the best run bookmakers in the borough.
· The anti-social problems in the area were linked to the premises.
In response to questions from Members, PC Eldridge informed the Sub-Committee that:
· The premises were open twenty-four hours and did not close. She had never observed the premises being closed. However, licensable activity did not take place during a twenty-four hour period.
· Mr Conmy had informed that consumption of alcohol at the premises was taking place.
· She had spoken to a dedicated ward Officer and one of the problems in the area was anti-social behaviour. He had also stated that he knew people who brought alcohol from the premises and were causing anti-social behaviour. They were well behaved when an officer was present in the area in uniform but caused issues when an officer would be present in plain clothes.
· If there was no alcohol being sold at the premises, then the group would not be present in the area.
· There were also sex workers in the area but had no involvement with regard to the premises. Some of them were understood to have alcohol issues.
· The individuals from the group had not been seen purchasing alcohol from the premises itself.
· There was an open conversation between residents, Police, businesses, and the safer neighbourhood panel regarding issues of anti-social behaviour in the area.
· A number of incidences regarding anti-social behaviour was not being formally documented.
· In relation to the sexual harassment of women in the area, she had not witnessed it herself. It was often this kind of anti-social behaviour often went unreported.
· It had been suggested that this was a prominent issue.
Robert Gardner, Licensing Manger, informed the Sub-Committee that:
· A principal concern was that Licensing had not been not notified for five years that there was no DPS present at the premises.
· Due to efforts made by Trading Standards, the Licensing team had become aware that no DPS had been present at the premises for the last five years.
· At no point during the last five years were the Licensing team aware that the premises had been operating without a DPS.
· He would support a revocation and the evidence that had been put forward with regard to a number of illegal practices and duty diverted stock. He proposed an additional condition that no beer, lager or cider with an ABV of 5.5% or above may be sold or supplied in a single bottle or container with a capacity greater than 750ml.
In response to questions from Members, Mr Gardner informed the Sub-Committee that:
· He had not had any direct dialogue with the premises about the suggested conditions.
Councillor Tiedemann informed the Sub-Committee that:
· There were serious issues of anti-social behaviour in the area.
· In September 2013, he had raised issues with Mr Conmy and had also raised the issue that the premises voluntary code of conduct had been breached.
· Parts of the licence had been underlined with marker pen for emphases on particularly important parts. However, these had not been followed.
· There were issues of sexual harassment in the area. The business had a level of responsibility with regard to this issue.
· There had been emails sent from 2009 to a previous Councillor from residents complaining about the issue of sexual harassment.
· In a meeting held recently, every woman in the room had reported that they had experienced some form of sexual comment or harassment. These were serious issues. Some residents had queried to what extent the business was responsible.
· He had observed stacks of empty plastic cups at the premises and individual drinking near the premises.
· He had also seen bottle openers at the premises.
· He had seen people drinking wine in the vicinity of the premises.
· Whilst further conditions were welcome, it was felt that the licence should be revoked.
In response to questions from Members, Councillor Tiedemann informed the Sub-Committee that:
· People had suffered from sexual harassment including people who lived on the flats above the shops.
· On one occasion, the harassment involved touching and regular and routine verbal comments.
· There had been one woman who continuously crossed the road when she was in the area and had moved home since.
· Complaints about the premises had come from residents from his ward. They had raised it with him and at the meeting every single woman had reported the anti-social behaviour. He had spoken to all twenty-five people present.
· He had not observed or heard sexist or harassing comments. He had seen groups outside drinking but had not witnessed any sexual harassment.
· The plastic cups and bottle openers indicated that the drinking in question was emanating from the premises.
The premises licence holder, Mr Nadeem and his representative, Ms Sylvester informed the Sub-Committee that:
· The premises licence holder has had a premises licence since it 2002 / 2003 and was running the premises previous to the Licensing Act 2003.
· After the Licensing Act 2003 had passed, the premises licence holder obtained his licence as normal but had not attended the training courses and was unaware of his responsibilities as a premises licence holder.
· The premises licence holder had been unaware that when the previous DPS had left, the name of the DPS had to be transferred into another staff member’s name.
· When the premises licence holder had informed Trading Standards that the DPS had left five years ago, he had been unaware with regard to the standard requirements of the Licensing Act 2003.
· As soon as the premises licence holder had been made aware of the need to have a DPS, he made the required change and the premises licence holder had become the DPS.
· The premises closed every day no later than 23:00.
· The premises licence holder had been running the premises since 2003.
· With regard to the illegal sale of alcohol in 2008, this had been done by Mr Javaid and he had been dismissed seven years ago and had not returned to the premises since.
· With regard to the incident in 2010, the illicit alcohol had been brought by a customer who wanted to exchange bottles and premises staff were unaware that the products were counterfeit. The premises licence holder realised that this was inappropriate practice and no longer traded in this manner.
· The illegal sale of tobacco was a mistake.
· There was no condition that a refusals register needed to be used but this has since been brought into practice.
· A tobacco notice for selling only to 18 year olds and over has been put on display.
· An inspection in April 2013 indicated no concerns regarding any of the alcohol stock.
· High strength alcohol and ciders had been on sale but the premises licence holder was in his right to do so as there was no condition on his premises licence precluding this.
· The alcohol found at the premises in open vessels belonged to friends of the licence holder. This was not to be consumed whilst the premises was open but after it was closed. None of the vessels had been sold but had been given to friends of the premises licence holder.
· The premises licence holder had passed test purchases on three occasions including not selling to a child under the age of 18.
· The premises licence holder has admitted on one occasion that had brought alcohol from a white van man who had showed him duty paid stickers. The premises licence holder thought these were genuine but would not trade in this manner again.
· A list of people authorised to sell alcohol had been created.
· Quizzes had been prepared to be given to staff as refresher training so they were aware of their responsibilities and remembered them.
· The premises licence holder had trained his staff on how to use a refusal book.
· All tobacco products had been re-positioned and would not be sold to children.
· When the new licence would be issued, it would be shown to officers whenever necessary.
· The premises licence holder had telephoned the police and had told the group outside the premises to leave but they would become aggressive.
· The premises licence holder has put signs outside informing that no loitering was allowed. He has also had his staff do their best to get rid of them.
· The premises licence holder has tried to work with Trading Standards and would stop selling single cans over 7% in abv once the current stock has sold out.
· A number of specialist drinks over 6.5 % abv were sold at the premises and the business did not want to lose regular customers who were not street drinkers.
In response to questions from Members, Mr Nadeem and Ms Sylvester informed the Sub-Committee that:
· The premises licence holder had not known he had to change the allocated DPS after the previous DPS had left.
· The premises licence holder has had recent training in the Licensing Act 2003. He also had a booklet to which he could refer.
· The premises licence holder had made arrangements for CCTV installation into the premises and would put this into effect.
· The premises licence holder has trained staff on how to meet various conditions on the licence and would deliver training approximately every four weeks.
· The premises licence holder kept a written record of all staff members who made sales of alcohol.
· The premises licence holder has started to maintain a refusals register. A number of customers would buy drinks containing over 5.5% abv who were not street drinkers.
· The premises licence holder has requested for the group who loitered outside the premises to move away but neither he nor the Police have been able to get the group to move and stay away from the premises. The premises licence holder has made every effort with regard to this.
· The premises licence holder had advised that he would not invite or allow friends or family to drink on premises.
· It was difficult not to sell single cans of alcohol for very small premises and therefore the premises licence holder would be reluctant to stop selling single cans of alcohol.
· The premises licence holder would not purchase any alcohol from unauthorised outlets.
· The premises licence holder had never opened bottles for the group that loitered outside the premises.
· When the Licensing Act 2003 came into effect, the premises licence holder was unaware of his legal duties in relation to the act as he had held a premises licence prior to 2003.
At this point in the proceedings, the Licensing Officer informed the meeting that after the Licensing Act 2003 came into effect, any already existing premises licence holders did not have to undergo the now required training courses for premises licence holders.
In response to questions from Members, Mr Nadeem and Ms Sylvester informed the Sub-Committee that:
· Plastic cups were no longer sold at the premises.
· The alcohol that was above 5.5% abv was Heineken.
· Some of the alcohol brought in from Poland was close to 6.5% abv.
· Overly strong alcohol of a very high abv rate would not be sold in single cans. However, slightly lower strength beers would be sold.
· The premises has stopped selling any alcoholic drinks above 7% abv.
· There was another premises connected to the business. This was located next door but staff members had not and were not selling drugs there.
· The premises licence holder promised he would hold his licence with a high level of responsibility.
· Premises staff had told the group outside to move away from the premise. Sometimes they would move, sometimes they did not move and other times they would argue. Premises staff had argued with the group before and they had been reported to the Police by premises staff.
· On Sundays the premises would close at 22:30 and was never open past 23:00. There was another premises which would remain open which was located on number 292 (the number of Mr Nadeem’s premises was 262).
· The premises was not open twenty-four hours.
· The local ward Police Officer had visited the area, however had not spoken to premises staff.
· The plastic cups could not be brought from his premises as they did not sell them anymore. There was a Sainsbury’s close by and other shops were available in the area.
· The premises licence holder was aware that smoking inside the premises was against the law.
PC Eldridge was recalled to address matters arising. In response to questions from Members, PC Eldridge informed the Sub-Committee that:
· Whenever she had gone past the premises she had not taken a specific note of what time it was.
· She had only ever observed the premises as being open.
· She also had to visit other premises which had more significant issues.
· The premises licence holder after apparently having called the Police regarding the group outside did not leave his name as he did not wish for the Police to associate him with the group or the business. However, it then makes the call difficult to trace for caller verification.
· The group that loitered outside the premises appeared to be volatile and appeared to be intoxicated, rude, obnoxious and sexist. This was understood to be a common occurrence.
· The William Hill premises was not known to sell plastic cups.
The Licensing Manager, Mr Gardner was recalled to address matters arising. In response to questions from Members, Mr Gardner informed the Sub-Committee that:
· The conditions with regard to the abv rate were becoming more common. It was a way of controlling excessive intoxication.
· Selling alcoholic drinks in packets of four could act as a significant deterrent for street drinkers.
· 5.5% was seen as the ‘tipping point’ for abv. A higher percentage could lead to problems of anti -social behaviour. However, this would always be considered on a case by case basis and was not a standard uniform approach.
· Preventing the sale of single cans and promoting low strength alcohol sent a message in respect to responsible drinking.
· In relation to additional conditions, he would agree with Mr Conmy’s additional suggested conditions that no bottles of cider be sold in excess of 1.5 litres.
· Miniature bottles of spirits should also be restricted.
The premises licence holder and his representative was recalled to address matters arising. In response to questions from Members, Mr Nadeem and Ms Sylvester informed the Sub-Committee that:
· The premises licence holder would need guidance on how to join the BCRP.
Adjournment and Decision
At 9:26pm, the Sub-Committee withdrew from the meeting together with the legal advisor and clerk to deliberate in private.
The Sub-Committee had heard and considered representations from Mr Conmy, PC Eldridge, Mr Gardner, Councillor Tiedemann, Ms Sylvester and Mr Nadeem.
Legal advice was given to the Sub-Committee on the options open to them and the need for any decision to be proportionate.
The Sub-Committee decided to grant the review application and to impose additional conditions on the premises licence.
RESOLVED: To grant the review application and impose the following conditions:
Conditions proposed by the Licensing team
1. Digital CCTV and appropriate recording equipment to be installed in accordance with Home Office Guidelines relating to UK Police Requirements for Digital CCTV System, operated and maintained throughout the premises internally and externally to cover all public areas, including the entrance to the premises and shall as a minimum cover the counter, the entrances/exits. The system shall be on and recording at all times the premises licence is in operation.
2. The CCTV cameras and recording equipment must be of sufficient quality to work in all lighting levels inside the premises at all times.
3. A CCTV system covering areas inside and outside of the premises should be operating and maintained according to police recommendations with properly maintained log arrangements and recording/tapes to be kept for a minimum of 30 days.
4. Subject to Data Protection guidance and legislation, the management of the premises will ensure that key staff are fully trained in the operation of the CCTV, and will be able to download selected footage onto a disk for the police without difficulty or delay and without charge to Lambeth Police.
5. Any breakdown or system failure will be notified to the police immediately & remedied as soon as practicable.
6. The premises shall join and actively link with the Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP), its linked radio scheme and the intranet site or similar scheme.
7. All persons or staff members engaged, or to be engaged, in selling alcohol on the premises shall receive full training pertinent to the Licensing Act, specifically in regard to age-restricted sales, and the refusal of sales to persons believed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Induction training must be completed and refresher training given thereafter at intervals of no more than twelve (12) weeks. All restricted sales training undertaken by staff members shall be fully documented and signed by the employee and Page 62 the DPS. All training records shall be made immediately available upon request to the Local Authority Licensing Officers and Lambeth Police Licensing Officers. All records are to be maintained for 12 months. Staff to be trained to be aware of proxy sales where an adult will buy alcohol for a child.
8. A written record of those authorised to make sales of alcohol shall be kept at all times. This shall be endorsed by the DPS with the date such authorisation commences. This shall be made available immediately upon request to the Local Authority Licensing Officers and Lambeth Police Licensing Officers.
9. The Licensee shall maintain a Refusals register and record any instances of refused service because of age/no ID, or drunkenness, to be produced on request. All documentation must be kept for a minimum of 12 Months.
10. No beer, lager or cider with an ABV of 5.5% or above may be sold or supplied in a single bottle or container with a capacity greater than 750ml
11. The premises licence holder shall keep all invoices/receipts relating to alcohol stored on the premises for a period of 12 months so that they can be cross-referenced with stock on the premises during unannounced inspections by police officers and officers from Lambeth Council and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Receipts shall include the following details: a) The seller’s name and address b) Seller’s company details, if applicable c) Sellers VAT details, if applicable
12. There shall be no paraphernalia or similar items associated with the labelling or re-labelling of alcohol or other goods kept on or in any part of the premises building (including store/stockrooms, offices, associated dwellings etc.)
13. Patrons shall be requested not to congregate outside the premises or on the pavement. Notices to this effect must be prominently displayed at the entrances of the premises.
14. No alcohol should be consumed inside or outside the premises either during trading hours or out of hours.
15. No single cans or bottles of beer or cider or spirit mixtures shall be sold at the premises (only multipacks of 4 or above should be sold at the premises).
16. The premises licence holder shall not purchase any alcohol from itinerant sellers.
17. The premises will adopt and operate an age verification policy set at a minimum of 25 years, whereby any person attempting to buy alcohol who appears to be under 25 will be asked for photographic ID to prove their age. The only form of ID that will be accepted are passports, driving licences with a photograph or Citizen card or validated proof of age cards bearing the “PASS” mark hologram. The list of approved ID may be amended or revised subject to prior written agreement with Lambeth Police.
18. Signage advertising the "challenge 25" policy will be displayed in prominent locations in the premises and shall include the point of sale and the area where alcohol is displayed , as a minimum.
Further additional conditions
1. There would be no sale or supply of miniature alcoholic drinks of the amount of 50 millilitres or less at any time.
2. There would be no sale or supply of bottles of cider exceeding 1.5 litres.
Announcement of Decision
Members returned to the meeting and the Chair informed those present of the decision to grant the application and impose the additional conditions set out above. Members were satisfied that the imposition of these additional conditions fully addressed the issues arising from this review and were appropriate and proportionate.