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Government to consider revisions to s.182 Licensing Act 2003 guidance as it issues formal response to select committee report on spiking

The Government has said it will review guidance issued under the Licensing Act 2003 to consider whether it should require licensing authorities to consider the prevalence, prevention and reporting of sexual harassment and misconduct and gender-based violence in statements of local licensing policy.

The commitment came in its response to a Home Affairs Committee report on Spiking, which made recommendations for tackling the issue of drink spiking at events and venues.

Published in April 2022, the committee’s recommendations mainly related to police and enforcement. However, changes to the way that venues are licensed were also proposed.

One of the report’s 12 recommendations called for all staff working at music festivals, including vendors, to be given compulsory safeguarding training, “and this be a requirement that licensing authorities consider when approving events”.

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The report also recommended that the Government begin collecting data on local licensing authorities’ use of their powers to impose conditions or revoke premises licenses, where venues do not take sufficient measures to protect and provide support to customers in spiking incidents.

In addition, the committee asked the Government to start work with local authorities to develop an anti-spiking strategy which encourages local licensing authorities to make better use of their powers. As part of this, it recommended a review of the guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 with a view to requiring licensing authorities to consider the prevalence, prevention and reporting of sexual harassment and misconduct and gender-based violence in statements of local licensing policy.

Responding to the report, the Government made a number of commitments, including accepting the recommendation to review the s.183 Licensing Act 2003 guidance.

In response to the call to collect more data, the Government stated it plans to explore with local authorities, licensing stakeholders and the Local Government Association whether data on licence reviews and revocations could be added to the biennial report.

The Government will also consider whether police forces and local authorities should be required to present an “anti-spiking mission statement” and outline their work to tackle the issue, in light of another recommendation made in the report.

The Government said it does not intend to mandate safeguarding training for all staff at events such as festivals but added that its review of the section 182 guidance would “reflect that when licencing committees are approving a licence for a festival, they should consider that staff are adequately trained in safeguarding”.

Responding the Government’s response to the report, the Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, Cllr Nesil Caliskan, said: "This report is an encouraging step forward in our efforts to tackle the issue of spiking. We are pleased to see a greater focus on anti-spiking initiatives to raise awareness of the issue, encourage reporting and share best practice to prevent spiking from happening in the first place."

Cllr Caliskan added: "While the Police primarily lead the response to incidents of spiking, councils play a vital, preventative role by not only working with a range of partners to improve safeguarding measures within the night-time economy but through the licensing system to address specific concerns against a venue.

“We look forward to working with the Government to build on the recommendations outlined in this report."

Adam Carey

Sponsored Editorial

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