There have been recent news reports about Police in North Wales sending actors in to licensed premises pretending to be drunk. The actors wore stained clothes and were told not only to act as if they were drunk, but also to make it clear to bar staff that they were drunk, by actually saying so!
It seems that 42 out of 49 premises actually served these individuals.
Under the Licensing Act 2003 it is an offence to sell alcohol to someone who is drunk and the definition of drunkenness has always been a difficult issue. Case law suggests that someone is drunk if their faculties are impaired beyond what they would normally be, which could apply to anybody who has had even a couple of drinks. That would mean that every licensed premises in the country would be committing an offence on a daily basis.
Fortunately, the legislation has been used sensibly up until now by the Police and I have only ever heard of cases being pursued when the drunks in question were very drunk indeed!
One can only assume that this tactic involving actors is simply a precursor to intelligence led enforcement. By that, I mean that Officers would undoubtedly carry out observations in premises where the actors have previously been served. I cannot see how they could prosecute anyone for actually serving the actors given that they weren’t actually drunk. They might, I suppose, throw the evidence from the operation into the mix on a Review that they were instigating anyway but I would be surprised if they pursued one on that evidence alone as technically it discloses no wrong doing.
The Police appear to have confirmed that there will be more operations of a similar nature in the future.
For more information please contact Graeme Cushion