Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Off To The Pub? Wear A Hat

The Mail are one of many to report that deputy Information Commissioner, David Smith, has come out against CCTV requirements for pub licensees.

David Smith, the deputy Information Commissioner, said: "Hardwiring surveillance into pubs raises serious privacy concerns. Installing surveillance in pubs to combat specific problems of rowdiness and bad behaviour may be lawful, but blanket measures where there is no history of criminal activity is likely to breach data protection requirements. Use of CCTV must be reasonable and proportionate if we are to maintain public trust and confidence in its deployment."

It was only Friday that I wrote about this myself. The focus was a Henry Porter article in The Guardian which hinted that there might be a policy by the police to hinder licence applications in Islington if the owner didn't commit to installing CCTV. The police insisted they didn't have such a policy and were at pains to point out that licensing was a local authority matter.

The MPS overall does not have a policy of insisting CCTV is installed within licensed premises before supporting licence applications. However, individual boroughs may impose blanket rules in support of their objectives to prevent crime and disorder and to assist the investigation of offences when they do occur.

So is this saying that Islington do, or don't, employ such rules? The Mail seem very certain.

The blanket policy has been introduced in the London boroughs of Islington and Richmond, where all applicants for permission to sell alcohol are being told they must fit CCTV.

Not personally being a sheep, especially when it comes to the Mail, I like to check these things out myself. It does seem, however, that they may have a point here. It's in the Islington licensing guidelines. [pdf]

CCTV shall be installed, operated and maintained in agreement with the Police. The system will enable frontal identification of every person entering the premises. The system shall record in real time and operate whilst the premises are open for licensable activities. The recordings shall be kept available for a minimum of 31 days. Recordings shall be made available to an Authorised Officer or a Police Officer (subject to the Data Protection Act 1998) within 24 hours of any request.

What's more, this is also mentioned.

When incorporated into the licence or certificate as conditions, they become enforceable under the law and a breach of such conditions could give rise to prosecution.

So, should the CCTV not be available, for any reason whatsoever, the owner would not only be vulnerable to losing his licence, but would also face the threat of prosecution.

To be completely fair to Islington, they do state that these conditions are to be 'volunteered', but the Islington pub owner who highlighted this was made very aware that his licence would be in jeopardy if he were to object.

I applied for a new licence, which requires the approval of a number of organisations, including the police. I was stunned to find the police were prepared to approve, ie not fight, our licence on condition that we installed CCTV capturing the head and shoulders of everyone coming into the pub, to be made available to them upon request.

I also spoke with a friend who is the licensing officer for another borough. Not only did he tell me that there was nothing I could do to overturn this, he also strongly advised me not to blot my copybook with the police by even questioning the request; I would not want them against me in the future.

It seems the guy is completely backed into a corner then. The police can protest their innocence as much as they like, but as long as they refuse to raise concerns, they are complicit.

Islington, of course, have implemented this without any semblance of democratic mandate, and we can't vote out the Metropolitan Police either. Unless I missed it, no party's General Election manifesto has ever carried this particular measure, nor has it been sanctioned by any legislation.

It is a regulation, made up on the fly, which can potentially destroy a business owner's life and potentially lead to a criminal record. Democracy in action? Don't think so.

Sounds like people acting "beyond their authority" to me. I seem to remember I have heard that before somewhere. Oh yes, it's from these smug bastards.

Is this what our country has descended to?


Witterings from Witney said...

Brilliant post, as usual. Mind you whether it is in a manifesto or not doesn't mean a thing, does it? (Referendum?)

I think we need a campaign for more lamp posts 'cause we won't have enough, will we?

banned said...

Prodicus defines this type of making up the rules as you go along as " Adhocracy" Good word.
I see now what is different, unlike in your earlier post on the subject but it does reflect my concern at 'local authorities misusing their powers ', in this case by implementing such a blanket policy with no democratic mandate. I knew it would come to this when licensing was moved to them from the Magistrates.

O/T But try staying sane after reading this which points the fingure at the latest lot of NHS Resources ABUSERS

In outline this states that single people get ill because they lack companionship, they get as ill as smokers and the obese. Because they are single they lack self-control and are therefore more likely to 'comfort eat', give up on exercise regimes, have a second or even third 'comfort scotch ' to combat feelings of lonliness and depression.
The reason they are single is because they lack social skills
( which might be interpreted as being anti-social ).

Statisics show that the largest number of households by size = 1
They are easily identifiable because they will have signed up for single discount Council Tax ( ie data-base already in place, cunning huh !)

I would be very wary if I were a Single, religeous and fat, drinker who smokes.

John's New Blog said...

I'm trying to decide whether I live in a neo-nazi country or a neo-stalinist one! everyone captured on cctv has a right to review the tape...I suggest that the system couldn't cope if every customer exercised his rights under the law. However this would inconvenience the landlord not the bureaucrats. The system seems to be designed to make everyone police his own discomfiture.

Stop Hitting Me Officer said...

Gee-Suss "it's either banned or compulsory", thanks for that link. I followed it (baaaaaa!) and now feel even less worthwhile than I did before.

As a grumpy old fart with a long-term testosterone addiction in combination with an oestrogen allergy, the corollary of which is that I have miserably failed to pass on my genetic legacy and/or create an "old age" package of grateful childlings about me, I now feel even more of a drain on society.

Fatties, smokers, drinkers, bastards who haven't settled into a nuclear 2.4 wife+kids+(small)dog scenario - who next? The ugly? Damn! That's me too.

It's no wonder government can't cope with all of these ridiculous individuals about, straining resources and diverting much-needed funds from fighting terrorism. Perhaps we "lonely" unbonded non-paired drains could be housed in some sort of institution for the non-functional? Dormitory accommodation only of course, to enforce socialisation. Maybe our social workers could march us off to a local CCTV/Real Ale pub once a week to help in our rehabilitation?

John Pickworth said...

Islington is just one of a number of local authorities that are arm twisting publicans into becoming unpaid policemen.

Blackpool has been doing this for a while now. Similar story; an application or change of a license comes with a list of conditions tacked on by the friendly local booze bobby... all voluntary of course, you can choose to comply or have your application resisted by plod and friends.

Here's a real life example:

Someone I knew decided a year ago to re-model his family restaurant on Blackpool's seafront. Wisely, he thought he'd also request a variation of his premises license so he could serve alcohol to customers not wanting a meal (as was the case under his existing license). Come those rare hot days of summer, not everyone wants to eat during the day; the variation would allow him to meet this often expressed need by those visiting his establishment.

All looked good with his application until he was visited (unannounced) by the police and other 'interested bodies' from the local council. They sat with the owner and drew up (on a piece of foolscap) a list of conditions that would satisfy the bloke from the Police Licensing Unit.

These conditions included a state of the art CCTV system, plastic glasses, door staff, membership of the local radiolink system and so on...

Now remember this is a small family restaurant, not some huge bursting at the seams night club and not even in the centre of town. This place dispenses the odd glass of beer to dad while the kids eat their fish fingers and chips.

Remember that hand written list of conditions? Turns out several other establishments in Blackpool have almost the exact same conditions attached to their licenses too. Strange that, and not something the Police mentioned when scribbling them down.

And here they are....


Annex 2 - Conditions consistent with the Operating Schedule

1 Noise from the premises will be inaudible at the nearest sensitive premises or, at the discretion of the Local Authority, shall not exceed some other pre-agreed limit, which does not cause unreasonable disturbance to neighbouring residents or their guests.

2 Flashing or bright lights on or outside the licensed premises shall be positioned in such a manner so as not to cause inconvenience to nearby properties.

3 Plastic glasses and disposable trays are to be used at the premises.

4 An adequate number of litter bins shall be provided and regular checks shall be made to ensure there is no nuisance around the licensed premises.

5 The opening hours of the premises are as defined except on Sundays preceeding Bank Holidays when the hours shall extend to 0130 except at Easter.

6 The premises are operated in accordance with the principles outlined by the Nightsafe Scheme, as are relevant to those premises, and indicated in the associated leaflet.

7 The premises shall be operated in participation with the Pubwatch and Radiolink schemes.

8 The premises shall be operated in compliance with the recommendations contained in Safer Clubbing.

9 All staff to have received suitable training in relation to the proof of age scheme to be applied upon the premises. Records to evidence this will be made available to an authorised officer upon request.

10 An adequate number of Licensed door supervisors will be on duty as appropriate to any risk assessment and in accordance with the guidance under the Nightsafe Scheme.

11 Appropriate measures will be taken to ensure staff prevent the removal of bottles or glasses from the curtilage and grounds of the licensed premises.

12 The premises are to be equipped with a closed circuit television system which meets the criteria detailed in Lancashire Constabulary's guidance document CCTV/AW1 and which is well maintained and fully functional during the hours the premises are open to members of the public.

13 The Local Authority CCTV control room will be notified:

a) On any occasion when the premises' CCTV or radio system is inoperative
b) When the CCTV or radio system has been brought back into use.

14 The Police Licensing Unit shall be notified on any occasion when the CCTV or radio system is to be inoperative for a period in excess of one working day and shall provide a certificate from a competent person stating the reason for the system being inoperative and the measures which have been taken to satisfy the licence conditions.

15 The Radiolink equipment will be live and will be monitored by the Head Doorman or another responsible person while the licensed premises are open for business.

16 Only toughened glass vessels are used to dispense beverages to customers.

17 At least one personal licence holder will be available on the licensed premises while the supply or sale of alcohol is being undertaken from 2000 hours on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until close and that person is made known to all other staff engaged in the supply or sale of alcohol.

18 Another member of staff shall be nominated to act for the Designated Premises Supervisor, in their absence, whose identity is known by all other staff when such absence occurs.

19 Adequate first aid provision is available at all times to include having at least one trained first aider on the premises at all times the premises are being operated.

20 Risk assessments carried out by or on behalf of the Licence Holder which relate to a licensing objective will be available for inspection by an officer or a Responsible Authority.

21 The premises shall maintain a drinks pricing policy which complies with any local authority resolution made in accordance with approval from the Licensees Forum or any successor liaison body recognised by the Licensing Authority.

22 Where there is reasonable suspicion that drugs are being carried, the licensee shall ensure that the outer clothing, pockets and bags of those entering the venue are searched by a trained staff member of the same sex.

23 Clearly visible notices, in a form prescribed by the Council, shall be displayed advising those attending that 1. It is a condition of entry that customers agree to be searched and 2. Police will be informed if anyone is found in possession of controlled substances or weapons.

24 Security arrangements are sufficient to discourage the sale and consumption of drugs and shall ensure such arrangements include regular checks of toilet areas.

25 Any customers known to have been previously convicted of committing criminal offences relating to drugs shall be excluded from the premises.

26 Records of incidents involving the use and/or detection of drugs shall be maintained and those records shall be available for inspection.

27 Confiscated and found drugs shall be stored, disposed, transferred in accordance with procedures agreed with the Lancashire Constabulary.

28 A drugs prevention strategy for the venue shall be developed and applied. The strategy shall include arrangements for the location of posters and the distribution of other information relating to drugs risks, the dangers associated with drugs and the legal provisions relating to drug use.

29 During the final hour of daily trading appropriate announcements are made or images are projected to remind patrons of the need to leave the premises without causing annoyance, nuisance or disturbance to local residents and to advise patrons of any taxi free phone or collection arrangements available upon the premises.

30 The volume of amplified sound used in connection with entertainment shall at all times be under the control of the licensee or management and the controlling mechanism shall be operated from a part of the premises inaccessible to the public.

31 Frequent collection of glasses and bottles will be undertaken to ensure that empty containers do not accumulate in or around the licensed premises.

32 A clear, legible and conspicuous notice requesting patrons to avoid causing noise, nuisance or disturbance to local residents shall be displayed at every exit.

33 Use of the beer garden and any outside drinking will not be permitted after 2330 hours.

And this is all stuff that doesn't need to appear on any premises license. Its all bolted on by others like the police who are getting a free ride. Think about it? All those late night shops, petrol stations, takeaways, pubs, clubs and restaurants etc. All tooled up with the latest crime fighting gear for the obvious benefit of those preferring to spend their time eating donuts instead while the costs for these measures are born by the businesses and ultimately their customers.

In fairness, there possibly are places that need CCTV, but it should be on a case by case basis and not introduced under penalty of losing your license and livelihood because someone accidentally unplugged a camera or you cannot afford to have more doormen than drinkers in your pub!

banned said...

Thanks for that John, it would be interesting to see how similar unofficial lists compare to those that are required eleswere. I can see evidence of every single one of those stipulations at my local large Weatherspoons.

I see that the licensee might suffer in the case of CCTV breakdown or failure yet the State gets away with it when their own cameras fail, ie every single camera during the London bombings and the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes .

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