Applying for a premises licence
For full details of the procedure for making applications under the Licensing Act 2003, please refer to the relevant Council for the area in which your premises sits or, if you are applying for a personal licence, the area in which you live. We have a list of council licensing teams in the Thames Valley Police area in our Useful Links section.
It is important to realise that each Licensing Authority has its own Licensing Policy which may affect how they consider your application (for example, some areas have Special Saturation Policies or Cumulative Impact Zones which may result in an automatic objection to your application). We recommend that you read the relevant policy, which will be on the Council’s website, very carefully.
As a Responsible Authority under the Licensing Act 2003, any new premises or variation applications for our area should be copied to Thames Valley Police. If we have any objections or representations to make to the application, then a hearing will be held by the Licensing Authority.
Most of the objections that we make are because the application does not contain sufficient information or measures to reassure us that the four licensing objectives will be suitably promoted. What would be sufficient would be very much dependent upon the individual circumstances of the premises, with issues such as capacity and location being of particular importance.
Our licensing officers will be happy to assist you with developing your application prior to submitting it, with advice on the sorts of measures that we would like to see put in place to give your application the greatest chance of being successful. We would particularly support any offers of having these formalised as conditions on the licence as well so that you will be accountable for them.
Considerations would include (but would not be limited to) the following:
- Implementation of a specified Challenge Policy (Challenge 21 or Challenge 25). There is a mandatory licence condition requiring a policy to be in place whereby anyone who appears under the age of 18 will be challenged for proof of age prior to any alcohol sale. Your application will be much stronger if you implement a policy that sets that test a bit higher (most commonly at 21 or 25). This would include how you intend to ensure that any such policy is adhered to by your staff (frequency of training etc), and the use of a refusals book to log any occasions when you or your staff have declined to serve somebody as a result of the policy.
- Hire agreements. If your premises is to be made available for hire, what will you be doing to ensure that the hirers will run their event responsibly (obtaining copies of their identification, getting them to sign agreements etc)? This will also include what additional measures you will put in place for specific event types, such as 18th and 21st birthday parties etc.
- Front of premises procedures. How will you minimise the impact on your premises’ immediate surroundings? This would include any queue management processes, dispersal policies and management of smoking areas.
- Security measures. Written risk assessments to establish what SIA door staff, if any, you will be using. Specifically, how many (either a set number or as a ratio of door staff to customer numbers), where they will be deployed, what days of the weeks and at what times etc. The use of an incident book is also recommended.
- CCTV. There is no point in having CCTV if it is not fit for purpose or it is unnecessarily invasive, so an indication of the standard of the CCTV (resolution/quality of images) and what it will be intended to do (camera positioning etc) would be useful. Also, any commitment to the availability of staff who can fully operate the system (including the reviewing and/or downloading footage for evidential use) would help.
- Drinking up times. Factoring this into your operating hours could play a key part in a wider dispersal policy by preventing a situation where all customers leave at once.
- Licensing hours. While longer opening hours may benefit you from a financial perspective, the reality is that the longer your customers spend drinking, the more likely they are to cause problems later - either on your premises or out in the community. Therefore, from the perspective of the crime & disorder and public nuisance licensing objectives, the shorter the opening hours, the better.
- Preventing excessive noise. Whilst more the remit of our colleagues in the Council Environmental Health teams (who are also responsible authorities and can object to your application), it is nonetheless worth mentioning the benefit of you giving an indication of what measures you will be putting in place to limit the amount of noise coming from your premises. Measures could include noise limiting equipment and ensuring the closure of external doors and windows.
- Written policies. Although they may cover issues that you would consider to be obvious, having specific written policies on your business’ attitude and ways of dealing with matters such as dispersals, queue management, drugs, weapons, refusals of service etc will be very helpful. Of course, you would also need to ensure that any such policies are strictly adhered to by your staff.