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Police powers

The police have extensive powers in order to visit licensed premises and have a number of different powers they can use to close premises in order to reduce crime and disorder in and around licensed and unlicensed premises.

“A constable can enter any premises that he believes are being, or are about to be, used for a licensable activity (Section 179) and any premises where he believes an offence under the act has been, is being or is about to be committed.  It is an offence to obstruct a constable exercising these powers”

Closure powers

There are extensive powers available to police to close premises amongst them are:

  1. Closure of unlicensed activity (only alcohol) (any premises that are being, or within the last 24 hours have been, used for the unauthorised sale of alcohol for consumption on or in the vicinity of the premises). Exercisable by a constable or authorised officer of the local authority (Section 19 CJPA).
  2. Closure of specific premises where crime and disorder is imminent.
    Exercisable by an officer of at least the rank of inspector (Section 161 Licensing Act 2003).
  3. Orders to close premises in an area experiencing disorder.
    Application made to Magistrates Court by an officer of at least the rank of superintendent (Section 160 Licensing Act 2003).

Closure of identified premises where crime and disorder is imminent – applies to all premises licences (Section 161 Licensing Act 2003).

Section 160 and 161 of the Licensing Act 2003 (2003 Act) make provisions to combat alcohol related disorder. The provision responds to public fear of increasing alcohol-related violence in pubs, clubs and bars. It is aimed at problems caused by the few DPS's/managers who behave irresponsibly and fail to take sufficient action to control drunkenness and disorderly behaviour or protect their neighbours from excessive noise.

Once set in motion by the Police, it invokes a formal magistrates hearing. This is regardless of any prior cancellation by Police, Justices or natural expiry of the closure period, no matter how short. At Police instigation, it can result in the revocation of the licence for the premises concerned and subsequent loss of livelihood and business to the area. All actions will be based on evidence. 

This power will be used where unanticipated events arise and emergency action proves necessary. It is intended to put DPS's, premises users (TEN's), licence holders and those having day to day management of premises under pressure to maintain order and reduce anti-social and violent behaviour and intended primarily as a deterrent.

Section 161(1)

"A Senior Police Officer may make a Closure Order in relation to any relevant licensed premises if he reasonably believes that: -

(a) There is or is likely imminently to be disorder on or in the vicinity of and related to the premises and the closure of the premises is necessary in the interests of public safety.


(b) A public nuisance is being caused by noise coming from the premises and the closure of the premises is necessary to prevent that nuisance."

A Closure Order made in these circumstances may only require the premises to remain closed up to a maximum of 24 hours and can only be made by an Officer not below the rank of Inspector (the Responsible Officer).

Specimen closure order