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Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001

Closure of licensed premises

23.The police have powers under the Licensing Act 1964 (“the 1964 Act”) to enter licensed premises to deal with criminal activity taking place, including breaches of licensing law and the terms and conditions of the justices’ licence. They also have powers under common law to enter and quell disorder. In addition, under section 188 of the 1964 Act, they have powers, where any riot and tumult is happening or expected to happen in any county or borough, to seek a warrant from magistrates closing specified licensed premises for such time as the magistrates may decide. This latter power is generally regarded as applying to instances of widespread breakdowns in law and order, and not localised instances of disorder on licensed premises. Furthermore, having entered and quelled any disorder or disturbance, the police have no powers to close the premises to prevent a recurrence of the problems or to protect the general public. At present, they would have to rely on the voluntary co-operation of the licensee.

24.Subsequently, they would have to pursue the revocation of the justices’ licence in respect of the premises involved through normal procedures under the 1964 Act. The Act provides the police with powers to move swiftly to protect the public, by closing licensed premises down immediately for up to 24 hours where disorder or disturbance is taking place. At the earliest opportunity, any closure order must be considered by magistrates to determine whether the premises will remain closed or not, pending a reconsideration of the premises’ licence at the next licensing sessions. The Act also provides to the police an immunity from liability for damages in certain types of cases when they exercise their power to close licensed premises.

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