The purpose of this report is to enable both the Licensing Authority and Medway Police to present their annual report in respect of licensing compliance and enforcement to the Licensing and Safety Committee and for Members to ask questions and make comments.
The Committee considered the annual reports on licensing compliance and enforcement from Kent Police and the Licensing Authority covering the period April 2015 to March 2016. The Licensing Officer, Kent Police, reported that Medway had the highest number of licensed premises within the North Division and highlighted the benefit of close working relationships between the Divisional Licensing Unit and licence holders and Designated Premises Supervisors (DPS). Working in partnership with the local authority, premises were visited whenever there was a change of DPS to provide a point of contact and discuss the licensing conditions to ensure that they were fit for purpose for the venue and were understood by the DPS. Enforcement action was seen as a last resort but would be taken when compliance visits had not achieved the desired outcome.
In relation to crimes generated from pubs and clubs, it was reported that there was a correlation between the number of victims of crime and offenders aged over 30. This was considered to be linked to the increased use of cocaine in this particular age group. Reported incidences of spiked drinks and grievous bodily harm had not been high in Medway during the year.
The success of operation REPEL was reported to the Committee. This had been instigated to focus on gang members believed to be involved in drug dealing at premises within Medway. Working with the premises management and door staff, Kent Police had provided a knife arch to assist with the searching policies at the premises. The operation had resulted in arrests for assault and possession of drugs and had sent a positive message that this type of offending would not be tolerated.
In conclusion the Licensing Officer, Kent Police, advised the Committee that there had been an increase in the number of Temporary Event Notices and also applications for new premises licences and the Unit had been successful in requesting that additional conditions be attached to licences where appropriate.
Members thanked the Licensing Officer, Kent Police for her comprehensive report. They commented on issues such as high strength alcoholic drinks and so called ‘pre-loading’ where customers consumed alcohol at home before going to a pub or club. The Licensing Officer, Kent Police advised the Committee that door staff were aware of this practice and would not admit customers to their premises if they were drunk. Preventative measures were also discussed and Members were advised that the use of plastic bottles instead of glass was restricted by the higher cost and shorter shelf life of products in plastic bottles. The use of Scan Net, an ID verification and entry scanning system, was also discussed.
It was noted that this would be the last meeting attended by the Licensing Officer, Kent Police and on behalf of the Committee, the Chairman thanked her for her achievements in Medway and wished her well in her new role.
Next, the Council’s Licensing and Local Land Charges Manager introduced her report for April 2015 to March 2016 which covered the changes to the structure of the Licensing Team; the various types of applications dealt with by the Team and compliance and enforcement undertaken by the Team. The report also included graphical information showing the monthly volumes/trends of a range of applications received and the monthly volumes/trends of complaints/service requests received and dealt with by officers. It was noted that very few complaints were received in relation to the Licensing Act 2003. Most complaints were taxi related and included issues such as the poor condition of vehicles, incidences of overcharging and poor driving.
In conclusion, the Licensing and Local Land Charges Manager reported that it had been an extremely challenging year due to the increasing volume of applications and the variety of compliance and enforcement action undertaken. With the new structure of the team in place, the next step was to look at new ways of working to enable an improved service to customers at no additional cost.
Members thanked the Licensing and Local Land Charges Manager for her thorough report.
The Committee considered and noted the reports prepared and presented by Kent Police and the Licensing Authority.