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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: