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Customer Protection

Customer Protection in Licensed Venues

Customer Protection

Customer Protection

As a licensed premises, the safety and well-being of your customers is a top priority. Implementing measures to protect customers is not only a legal requirement but also essential for building a positive reputation and fostering a safe environment for staff, patrons and the local community.

In this blog, we discuss the key aspects of customer protection that every licensed venue should be actively implementing.

Licensing Law and your Age Verification Policy

The premises licence holder or club premises certificate holder must ensure all staff are advised of the licensing law, in writing, before they are allowed to serve alcohol. Staff should be advised that an Age Verification Policy is in place and that this must be applied throughout the premises in relation to the sale or supply of alcohol.

It is the responsibility of the Designated Premises Supervisor to ensure the supply of alcohol is carried out in accordance with licensing law and the Age Verification Policy and, therefore, staff must receive training on the Licensing Act 2003 and your premises Age Verification Policies

For more information:

Government guidance on age verification policies

Challenge 25 information

First Aid

As discussed in our previous blog on the subject of Emergency Measures, having trained staff members equipped to handle potential emergencies is crucial. This also filters down to minor incidents - ensuring that your team is aware of basic first aid procedures and having first aid kits readily available can make a significant difference in handling unexpected situations effectively.

The minimum first-aid provision for any venue should include:

To keep your staff and patrons safe, we recommended that all new staff undergo structured and documented induction training which includes basic First Aid training. The requirement to administer first aid can occur at any time, and basic and enhanced first aid training will give your staff confidence to provide assistance as necessary.

While the minimum requirement for a premises is a fully stocked first aid kit, larger premises should also consider acquiring a defibrillator and training staff to use it. If your venue does not have a defibrillator, it is good practice to make yourself and your staff familiar with the location of your nearest publicly accessible device. These include step-by-step instructions alongside the device on how to use.

Premises of any size can have a medical emergency, and consideration should be given to what steps can be taken to keep the patient safe and provide the best possible care until the emergency service arrives. For venues with a dedicated medical area, we recommend having CCTV coverage for the protection of your staff and patrons.

There have been a number of examples in which lives have been saved because a trained first aider was able to assist with appropriate equipment, such as in the case of a woman whose life was saved by trained staff in a Nottinghamshire pub, and nightclub staff in Southend who saved a man with stab wounds outside their venue.

Looking for first aid training for your staff?

Customer Vulnerability

Licensees have a duty of care towards their customers, and it is important your staff know how to identify vulnerable customers.  The National Business Crime Centre (NBCC) have produced a Welfare & Vulnerability Engagement (WAVE) package for use nationally which has been produced to help you and your staff identify vulnerable people.

WAVE is based on five key principles:

  • Preventing and reducing violent crime linked to the licensed economy
  • Preventing and reducing sexual offences
  • Reducing preventable injury linked to alcohol and drug use in the licensed economy
  • Reducing opportunities for criminal activity and anti-social behaviour in licensed premises
  • Promoting partnerships and engagement with communities and key stakeholders in the licensed economy


How to respond to an acid attack

An acid attack involves a corrosive substance being thrown or sprayed on a person or people as part of a violent attack or robbery. Although 'acid attack' is the phrase most people use to refer to such incidents, they can involve acidic, alkaline or caustic chemicals. Household cleaners, drain un-blockers and industrial chemicals are substances commonly used by perpetrators.

An acid attack can happen anywhere and at any time, so in response to recent assaults of this nature, the UK Government have provided comprehensive guidance which can be used by anyone. Security staff in licensed premises may be the first to respond to acid attacks or incidents where someone has been exposed to a hazardous substance. Training your staff and keeping an acid attack first aid kit could provide crucial support and make a significant difference to a victim until emergency services arrive.

For further information and free downloadable assets for your venue, visit Protect UK.


How to identify drunk patrons or those under the influence of drugs

It is an offence under the Licensing Act 2003 (Section 141) to sell alcohol to a person who is drunk. Your staff should be fully trained on their responsibilities and the possible consequences, both for them personally and the impact on your business, if they serve alcohol to drunk persons.

The amount of alcohol that an individual consumes before becoming excessively intoxicated varies from person to person, and may be influenced by their:

  • Age
  • Size
  • Gender
  • Health
  • State of mind
  • Rate of drinking
  • Amount and type of food consumed
  • Medication
  • Frequency of drinking

The effects of drinking also vary from person to person, and may include (but are not limited to) difficulties with their speech, balance, coordination and behaviour:


  • Incoherent or muddled speech
  • Loss of train of thought
  • Rambling or unintelligible conversation
  • Slurring words


  • Bumping into or knocking over furniture or people
  • Falling down or cannot stand
  • Difficulty walking straight
  • Staggering or stumbling
  • Swaying uncontrollably
  • Unsteady on feet


  • Difficulty counting or paying money and fumbling change
  • Difficulty opening or closing doors
  • Dropping drinks
  • Inability to find mouth with a glass
  • Spilling drinks


  • Aggressive
  • Annoying/pestering others
  • Argumentative
  • Bad tempered
  • Belligerent
  • Confused
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Disorderly
  • Drowsiness or sleeping at a bar/table
  • Exuberant
  • Inappropriate sexual advances
  • Loss of inhibition
  • Loud/boisterous
  • Not understanding normal conversation
  • Offensive, including the use of offensive language
  • Overly friendly
  • Physically violent
  • Rude
  • Vomiting

Patrons under the influence of drugs (either consensually or otherwise) may show many of the same symptoms as being drunk. Although symptoms vary from substance to substance, symptoms usually include some of the following:

  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Difficulty concentrating or speaking
  • Loss of balance and finding it hard to move
  • Visual problems, particularly blurred vision
  • Memory loss (amnesia) or blackouts
  • Feeling confused or disorientated, particularly after waking up (if you have been asleep/unconscious)
  • Paranoia (a feeling of fear or distrust of others)
  • Hallucinations (seeing, hearing or touching things that aren’t there) or having an ‘out of body’ experience
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unconsciousness

For more information for patrons about spiking, visit out Safety Hub Blog.


In conclusion, by prioritising customer protection through measures such as first aid readiness, compliance with licensing laws, thorough age verification processes and proactive support for vulnerable customers, licensed premises managers can uphold high standards of safety and hospitality. Remember, a safe and secure environment not only benefits your customers but also contributes to the overall success of your establishment.

To obtain further information and a Policing accreditation to demonstrate your efforts for customer protection, please visit

Further information around customer protection and vulnerability is available within the Licensing SAVI assessment.

Read more …Customer Protection in Licensed Venues

Venue Safety: Emergency Measures

Venue Safety: Emergency Measures

Venue Safety: Emergency Measures

Venue Safety: Emergency Measures

As a licensed premises, the security of your venue and the safety of your staff and patrons are of the utmost importance, particularly in case of an emergency. Prevention, and knowing what to do in terms of emergency response measures are necessary to reduce incidents from occurring, and to give staff the ability to effectively deal with issues if they arise.

We discuss some of the main elements of emergency planning in licensed premises – have you checked yours lately?

Emergency Management Plan (EMP)

An Emergency Management Plan (EMP) is an essential tool for any venue, regardless of its size or purpose. It outlines a course of action to mitigate the risk caused by potential events that could endanger a premises’ ability to function. This plan should include measures to ensure the safety of staff and patrons, as well as the protection of property and facilities where possible.

It is essential that all staff members are aware of the existence of an EMP and know how to apply it in the event of an emergency. Regular training and testing of emergency procedures can help ensure that all staff know their role and are prepared to respond effectively in an emergency situation. Additionally, staff should be easily identifiable in an emergency, so patrons can seek their assistance if needed.

An EMP should be developed and regularly reviewed to ensure that all staff are trained and prepared to respond. This will help ensure the safety of staff and patrons, as well as the protection of property and facilities.  

Advice of what to include in your emergency planning procedures can be found on the HSE Emergency Procedures page.

Emergency Exits

Emergency exits are a crucial and legal aspect of any building's design, yet they are often overlooked until an emergency occurs. Recent incidents, including the 2021 New Years Eve Manchester bar fire and the Murcia nightclub fire, have highlighted the importance of having clearly marked and easily accessible emergency exits. However, it's not enough to simply have emergency exits; staff must also be trained on what to do and what is expected of them in an emergency situation.

All emergency exits within your venue should provide staff and patrons a clear and safe route for easy and orderly egress during emergencies where immediate evacuation is necessary. The presence of emergency exits can minimise injuries and potential fatalities, so it is essential that they are easily identifiable, free from obstruction, and always accessible. The importance of emergency exits cannot be overstated, as they are a fundamental safety feature that can make all the difference in life-or-death situations.

Know the law:

  • There must be at least one fire exit within your premises
  • Fire doors must be fire resistant and fire-rated to meet safety standards
  • All staff are responsible for ensuring emergency exits are kept functional, easily accessible and fully usable

Fire Safety

There are a number of common fire risks present in licensed venues, including:

  • Cooking equipment in kitchens
  • Electrical fires (Caused by faulty items or systems, where they are not properly tested or maintained)
  • Electrical equipment (Such as lighting being placed too close to flammable materials)
  • Smoking (Careless disposal of smoking materials, or smoking occurring in non-designated places)
  • Candles (Open flames left unattended near flammable materials)
  • Arson (Stock or rubbish stored in publicly accessible places can increase this risk)

As part of your Emergency Management Plan, there should be an outline of your venue’s fire safety and evacuation plans.

Your plan must show how you have:

  • Carried out a risk assessment of the premises and reviewed it regularly
  • Put measures in place to reduce identified risks
  • An appropriate fire detection system
  • An effective alarm system to alert people in the case of an emergency
  • A clear passageway to all escape routes
  • Clearly marked escape routes that are as short and direct as possible
  • Enough exits and routes for all people to escape
  • Emergency doors that open easily
  • Emergency lighting where needed
  • A designated muster point away from the building and how you will check all persons have left the premises

Your EMP should also highlight the roles staff will play in the event of an emergency, including:

  • Who is responsible for calling 999 and requesting the emergency services
  • How staff will support and direct anyone not familiar with the space away from/out of the premises
  • Who will liaise with the emergency services when they arrive

In the UK, fire alarm regulations require all business premises to have an appropriate fire detection system in place, which must be able to detect a fire and alert staff and customers in and around the venue quickly and easily.

To ensure that your fire alarms are working properly, British Standard BS 5839 requires weekly testing. Proper testing is crucial in identifying any issues or faults in the system, and failure to test and maintain your fire alarms properly can result in a violation of Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The UK Fire Alarm Regulations require your fire alarm system to be adequately maintained, but it's recommended to have a competent person inspect the system at least every 6 months according to BS 5839 and the UK government.

For more, see Government advice on fire safety procedures and your responsibilities.

For more advice for licensed premises on fire safety measures, visit the London Fire Brigade advice page.

Medical Emergencies

Premises of any size can be the scene of a medical emergency, and consideration should be given to what steps can be taken to keep the patient safe and provide the best possible care until the emergency service arrives. There have been a number of examples in which lives have been saved because a trained first aider was able to assist with appropriate equipment, such as in the case of a woman whose life was saved by trained staff in a Nottinghamshire pub, and nightclub staff in Southend who saved a man with stab wounds outside their venue.

It is important that you have a fully stocked first aid kit. Larger premises should consider having a defibrillator, a member of staff trained to use it and a qualified medic. If your venue does not have a defibrillator, make yourself and staff familiar with the location of your nearest publicly accessible device. This location should be included in your EMP.

It is good practice to have CCTV covering your medical area for the protection of your staff and patrons.

Whilst relatively rare in licensed premises, an acid attack involves a corrosive substance being thrown or sprayed on a person or people. Rapid medical intervention by someone trained on how to deal with these attacks can make a significant difference to the welfare of the victim.

Further guidance on hazardous substance exposure and removal can be found at ProtectUK.

Counter Terrorism

The UK’s National Threat Level is currently ‘substantial’, indicating an attack is likely. Terrorist groups attack vulnerable people and sites to create a climate of fear and intimidation and to cause maximum harm to the economy. Places where crowds of people gather, such as sports stadia, hotels, bars, pubs and clubs are easily accessible and attractive targets.

The owners of licensed premises can mitigate against the risk to their businesses, their employees and customers by introducing robust security measures, policies and procedures which in turn will make it difficult for terrorists to plan and carry out their attacks.

Learning about the best practices to help counter terrorism and increasing your security awareness is key to evaluating the risk posed by terrorism.  The award winning ACT e-learning course is available for free at ProtectUK, and for venues who host live music events, Counter Terrorism Policing has launched a #BeSafeBeSound campaign, collaborating with the UK’s music industry to deliver vital safety advice to the public.

Crowded Places

Overcrowding raises the risk of crushing injuries and suffocation, as well as providing greater opportunities for sexual assault. It also creates difficulties in reaching vulnerable individuals or those engaged in criminal activity/anti-social behaviour.

Overcrowding can slow the entry and exit of customers into and out of a venue, leading to potentially serious issues and risk of injury.

Two of the licensing objectives are 'public safety' and the 'prevention of public nuisance'. Regulating and monitoring the peaceful arrival and departure of your patrons is important to those objectives and the success of any operating practices. Subtle changes to the nature of the operation can be introduced at set times, to indicate, for example, that the premises is nearing closing time, prompting a gradual dispersal of customers to avoid the potential for large numbers leaving at the same time. This is commonly referred to as a ‘soft closure’.

A Template Dispersal Policy is provided within the resources section of Licensing SAVI and can be used to inform training and raise staff awareness.

For venues who hold large events, you should consult with and, where necessary, have a qualified event safety manager/safety officer who is familiar with crowd management good practice. This should help to organise the associated safety considerations and contingencies to design out the opportunities for potential vehicle attacks and prevent incidents like the fatal crowd crush at London’s Brixton Academy in 2022.

For more detailed information, we recommend that event organisers within the hospitality and outdoor events industry and those involved in the planning of such events refer to the Purple Guide, which is designed to provide guidance for event organisers, suppliers, local authorities and others involved in the outdoor events industry.

Similarly, for those venues that plan and organise large events within sports stadiums, we recommend the Green Guide, which is recognised around the world as best practice for the design, planning and safety management and operation of sport grounds.


To keep your staff and patrons safe and to show that you are following your obligations as per the Licensing Act 2003, it is strongly recommended that all new staff undergo structured and documented induction training in regards to emergency procedures in your venue. This is also a requirement that you must be able to demonstrate to the responsible authorities, including Licensing Authorities, Police, Fire and Rescue Services, and Environmental Health.

Your induction training must include an explanation of the Fire Safety Procedures to all new staff, as this is a legal requirement for all employers. Failure to provide this training can result in fines or prison time. It is also recommended that staff are trained in basic first aid and have access to basic first aid supplies.

Free Emergency Measures Checklist

Free Emergency Measures Checklist

Emergency Measures Checklist


Further information around preventing and responding to different emergencies is available within Licensing SAVI.

Read more …Venue Safety: Emergency Measures

Keeping Patrons Safe this Halloween

Keeping Patrons Safe this Halloween

Keeping Patrons Safe this Halloween

Keeping Patrons Safe this Halloween

Halloween is a great opportunity for pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants to enjoy fun time with customers who may want to celebrate in ghoulish costumes, masks and wacky make-up.

Whilst licensees and managers enjoy this timely and welcome boost to their income on the last weekend of October, they should be ready to brief their staff on how best to keep customers safe.

The Licensing SAVI top tips for patron safety at Halloween are:

  • Check Premises Licence conditions to ensure plans are compliant, especially when considering using space differently such as outside areas which may not have been used before; and submit Temporary Event Notices where necessary as early as possible

  • Review your policies and risk assessments to ensure they are fit for purpose

  • Record changes to operating practices in risk assessments and audit trails

  • Ensure staff are wearing branded uniforms/badges so customers know who to ask for assistance

  • Consider how you will facilitate queues outside your venue or large numbers arriving together – review your entry/exit plans

  • Remind staff of 21/25 age-identification schemes, especially as Halloween costumes and make-up could make under-age teenagers look older

  • Use polycarbonate or similar drinking vessels, decant any bottles to reduce risk of injury or harm, and ask staff to clear rubbish quickly and remove to secure storage

  • Run sensible drinking promotions and make free water available

  • Encourage staff to be on the look-out for drink spiking, monitor unattended drinks and provide immediate assistance to customers feeling dizzy, disorientated or showing signs of intoxication; consider signage warning not to leave drinks unattended (free resources available here)

  • Brief staff on the ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign to assist customers who feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened by discreetly asking staff for ‘Angela’– a code-word that says a customer needs help, such as by re-uniting them with a friend, seeing them to a taxi, or by calling venue security and/or the police

  • Remind staff it is an offence to serve a drunk person (or on behalf of a drunk person)

  • Display numbers of reputable taxi companies and signpost customers via well-lit routes to nearby transport hubs. Consider your dispersal plans when everyone leaves at the same time

  • When decorating the venue for Halloween use battery-operated candles or glow sticks for example in carved pumpkins – do not use open flames

  • Check smoke alarms are working and keep decorations clear of exits to allow for escape in emergency

  • Check staff know emergency procedures.

By following the above guidance, your staff and customers can enjoy a safer socialising experience this Halloween.

Read more …Keeping Patrons Safe this Halloween

Preparing for University Freshers Weeks 2023

Preparing for University Freshers Weeks 2023

Licensed premises are being urged to make preparations to keep students safe during the forthcoming Freshers Weeks across the UK.

The advice has come from Licensing SAVI’s Mark Morgan, the pioneering, police-led, national initiative which works to support licensees keep venues, such as bars, pubs and clubs, safe and secure for customers and staff.

Mark said: “The coming weeks will bring challenges to the towns and cities who host our further and higher education establishments with the influx of new students and Freshers Weeks.

“Student vulnerability is a major concern. In addition, many venues will be employing new students as staff, so venue operators should be reviewing their practices around sensible drinking and efforts to reduce vulnerability. It is important venues strike the right balance between ensuring students have the fantastic experience they crave whilst ensuring they are safe and free from harm.”

Mark encourages managers of venues on-campus and in towns and cities with colleges and universities to:

Prepare in advance

Planning is key and you can seek help from your local police and council licensing teams to problem solve reasonably anticipated risk. This will allow for appropriate support if necessary and for your venue to be included in response plans for the wider local area. This should also ensure you are able to adapt to other events nearby which could impact upon you.

You should also:

  • Check Premises Licence conditions to ensure plans are compliant, especially when considering using space differently such as outside areas which may not have been used before
  • Submit Temporary Event Notices where necessary as early as possible
  • For busy events, consider ticket-only access and whether you need the additional support of Security Industry Authority (SIA) registered Door Supervisors
  • Review your policies and risk assessments to ensure they are fit for purpose
  • Record changes to operating practices in risk assessments and audit trails

Brief your staff

Update staff on procedures and management practices, which could include:

  • Challenge 21/25 age-identification schemes to manage underage drinkers and remind staff it is an offence to serve a drunk person (or on behalf of drunk person)
  • Emergency procedures, such as how to respond to alarms and the location of fire exits and the need to keep them uncongested; and to stop serving, make best use of security staff, and perhaps consider calling the police in the event of any tension or disorder
  • Remind staff about the risks of spiking, how they can prevent it and worst case how to respond Free venue resources are available here
  • How to manage the number of customers to avoid exceeding venue capacity and how large numbers could influence departure and effective response to incidents
  • Ensure nominated staff know how to use your CCTV system to ensure it is fully operational and are able to download footage
  • Consider safe and controlled dispersal from your venue when events finish
  • Inform staff of the named Designated Premises Supervisor or appropriate manager
  • Explain the different types of vulnerability and how vulnerable people can be supported, such as by contacting friends or family on their behalf, as opposed to asking them to leave a venue where they could then become at greater risk

Additional tips 

  • Run sensible drinking promotions and make free water available
  • Use polycarbonate or similar drinking vessels and decant any bottles to reduce risk of injury or harm, that could result from accidents or disorder
  • Consider using suitable drink covers / tops to avoid spiking
  • Clear empty glasses and rubbish quickly and remove to secure storage
  • Display numbers for reputable taxi companies, signposting to nearby transport hubs

Licensing SAVI 

Licensing SAVI is focused on supporting those who manage and work in licensed premises to be able to undertake a ‘health check’ in relation to their operating practices and security measures, providing feedback to help improve where necessary and to accredit venues with a Police Safety Award to reflect the efforts they’ve made. Find out more at:

Read more …Preparing for University Freshers Weeks 2023

Safety Benchmark and Training Resource

Safety Benchmark and Training Resource

Safety Benchmark and Training Resource

Police Crime Prevention Initiatives is a police organisation that works closely with the Home Office and alongside the Police Service to deter and reduce crime.

In the first of five articles, Mark Morgan, explains our Licensing Security & Vulnerability Initiative and how it can make licensed premises safer year on year and support staff in their training and development…

Licensing Security & Vulnerability Initiative (Licensing SAVI) is the most comprehensive, single source of information for licensed premises to obtain all the guidance, advice and standards they need to comply with the Licensing Act 2003 and meet the requirements of the ‘Responsible Authorities’, including Police and Council Licensing Teams.

Licensing SAVI is ground-breaking because, for the first time ever, licensees in England and Wales have consistent information to promote the four Licensing Objectives: Prevention of Public Nuisance, Prevention of Crime and Disorder, Protection of Children from Harm, and Public Safety.

Developed at the request of the Home Office by Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (Police CPI), Licensing SAVI is backed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Project Servator, a police-led vigilance scheme to deter terrorist attacks at crowded places.

Conveniently available as an online self-assessment, Licensing SAVI brings together definitive information on effective management practices and operational security including safety measures, many of which can be introduced quickly and at little or no cost and some which licensed premises may not have considered before. 

Its aim is to deliver authoritative ‘best practice’ for bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels, theatres and sporting clubs to make them safer and more secure year on year for the benefit of managers, staff, customers and local communities. Importantly, completion of the self-assessment can lead to Accreditation and an Award with a Star-Rating for display to show a venue’s commitment to safety and security.

Appropriate for start-up businesses to established operators, and single independent premises to large groups of venues, its advice and guidance embraces safety and security inside premises and in garden and other outdoor seating areas during operating hours to security when closed.

Licensing SAVI covers critical issues like sensible drinking, drugs misuse, violent behaviour and safeguarding vulnerable customers through to opportunist theft and physical venue security.

For example, how do licensees manage unplanned large queues; deal with prohibited items like drugs or weapons; and eject badly behaving customers – and by what route?

What are the venue’s management practices on pre-employment checks, age verification, staff branded uniforms and ID badges, customer searches, and in the most extreme circumstances – calling emergency services? Do staff know the fire emergency procedures and what needs to be done if a crime is committed?

How adequate is the venue’s security equipment, such as CCTV and lighting? What about having raised areas behind bars, and strategically placed mirrors, to help staff see what’s going on? Are tills within easy reach of customers? Are there notices to assist customers to get home, such as the display of taxi contact details or bus and train times? What about dispersal plans when everyone leaves at the same time?

Licensing SAVI is well-placed – and timely – to be used as part of a Business Recovery Plan following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and for the training of staff who are returning after being furloughed and the recruitment of new staff to replace those who have left.

It’s also an ideal template for on-going personal development as Licensing SAVI will be updated regularly to keep pace with new legislation, changing patterns of criminal behaviour and hospitality industry best practices.

In addition, with its Star-Rating Award system, Licensing SAVI encourages licensees to make their premises safer and more secure every year to display an even higher Star-Rating to make customers aware of the venue’s ongoing priority to keep staff and customers safe.

You can undertake the Licensing SAVI self-assessment by clicking the button below:


Read more …Safety Benchmark and Training Resource