Licensing Awareness: Don’t throw your problems out onto the street!

Over the past six months, we have been delivering Licensing Awareness courses around the North East of England.  It’s been an interesting time delivering the training because in the past this wasn’t a course we get asked to do much.

Typically, we deliver the Personal Licence Holders training regularly and once you achieve the qualification this is one of the things you need to buy the Licence from your local council.

So why the uptake on businesses asking for Licensing Awareness training?

This is what the owners are telling me –

  • We are located in an area with social issues resulting in a high risk of underage sale of alcohol or proxy sales.
  • We were recently visited by the council who recommended staff training
  • Our establishment is a nightclub and we are naturally high risk of underage sales
  • We had a complaint from a resident who believes we are selling alcohol to children

Admittedly, the above list is what must be going on in any case and I don’t think it explains the increase in training we have completed.  However, it was on the first four or five courses we got asked about that does explain it.

These business owners are scared that one day they will be put under the spotlight on why their staff expelled a drunk, drugged up (or both) customer who is now outside, possibly on their own in a city they are not local to (we all love a weekend city break) and vulnerable. When in fact they put an already vulnerable person into greater danger.

The Licensing Act 

Now for anyone who knows a bit about The Licensing Act 2003, it is up to the venue to ask any customers to leave if they are causing any disorder. Yet strangely it is also against the law for any venue to serve a drunken customer. Yep, even to me, that sounds weird !!

Let’s get back to those scared business owners.  When consulting with these worried Managers and Business Owners I hope I achieve my goal which is to first of all make them feel a little better.  I say “a little” because this problem isn’t exactly going to go away – ejecting drunken customers but I like to open with “Hey you’re in good hands because I am also a First Aid Instructor.”

So what’s First Aid got to do with Licensing training?

Staff working on a licensed venue will be trained to spot the signs of customers getting too drunk or looking suspicious of any drug activity and then the venue must act.  But how many staff will look at a customer to who they have served a few drinks and think any of the following . . . .

  • They have fallen and appear concussed
  • My best friend has Diabetes and does that
  • I wonder if they have Epilepsy?

Using a First Aid First Approach

During the Licensing Awareness sessions, we embed first aid topics which can be likened to drunkenness.  Staff are trained to approach customers using a moral approach to consider a customer’s well-being.  Just as we would on a First Aid course you should be asking the customer questions and checking in with them or their friends/family who are enjoying a night out with them.  Not the easiest thing to do I know but Health and Safety is about being active and using a First Aid First approach supports this.

So what should my staff do?   

  • Ask if something has happened – Could they have fallen and their friends put it down to having a few drinks or just clumsiness (I would too)? Have they slipped (on your floor in your dark venue) and hit their head and instead they have a mild concussion? Some serious head injuries are not always apparent until hours later such as a bleed developing on the brain.  Believe me, this can happen just from falling over and hitting your head.
  • Concussion – Eyes can be dilated, the person appears a little sleepy, and speech can seem slurred.
  • Ask the person (or their friends) about any medical conditions?
    • A person’s Diabetes if not managed can make the person seem uncooperative and passive-aggressive.  Often likened to drunkenness.
    • Minor epileptic seizures can give the appearance that an individual’s attention has wandered off as has their gaze
  • Forgot to take their medication. Or have they been spiked through no fault of their own?

Imagine that you didn’t do any of that and instead called over the Door Supervisor to have them escorted out.  I’ll leave the rest to you to reflect on. Now you see why those business owners are scared.  Scared that they will get a letter from a solicitor representing a family of that customer you throw out on the street whilst trying to deal with their medical condition.

I’m not going to go into the whole debate about taking ownership of yourself and your actions and how much negligence the venue could be blamed for, that is beyond the scope of this post.

However, I will gladly remind business owners they must do what they can in terms of practicality and training is a big part of that proactive approach I‘m always happy to remind you of.