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Plea to venues to ‘promote sensible drinking’ during University Freshers Weeks

- News

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 Mark Morgan, who runs Licensing SAVI, a pioneering, police-led, national initiative to keep venues, such as bars, pubs and clubs, safe and secure for customers and staff.

Mark explains that Freshers Week should mark the start of an exciting time for young students as they make new friends, explore their new towns & cities, have fun, avoid having to explain to parents about being late home – and of course, look forward to starting their studies and their careers beyond.

However, it can also be a time of concern because much of the partying in a vibrant, care-free atmosphere will be focused around alcohol with many of the students having left home and becoming responsible for their own welfare for the very first time.

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
  • On the most important occasions, 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 and call police in the event of any tension or disorder
  • How to manage the number of customers to avoid exceeding venue capacity and how large numbers could influence departure in response to critical incidents
  • Ensure nominated staff know how to use your CCTV system to ensure it is fully operational and are able to download footage
  • Promote awareness of how staff ca support victims and prevent spiking
  • 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
  • Clear empty glasses and rubbish quickly and remove to secure storage
  • Display numbers for reputable taxi companies, signposting to nearby transport hubs

Terrorist threat

The terrorist threat is ‘substantial’ which means an attack is ‘likely’. Crowded places are particularly at risk. Managers and staff will need to be vigilant for anything out of the ordinary or that doesn’t feel right no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Call your local police on 101 or in an emergency 999.

Licensing SAVI

The Licensing Security and Vulnerability Initiative (Licensing SAVI) self-assessment was developed at the request of the Home Office. Licensing SAVI is a confidential self-assessment tool designed to help the owners and operators of licensed premises provide a safe and secure environment for their managers, staff, customers and local communities.

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: