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Write a social responsibility policy for your across-the-counter off-licence business

​Be socially responsible

All across-the-counter off-licence businesses must submit a social responsibility policy with any application for an off-licence.

The District Licensing Committee (DLC) will look at it when it considers an application for new or renewed licences.

The information you provide will help the DLC assess the way you run your business and what systems, staff and training you have in place.

The licensing inspector, the police and the Medical Officer of Health will also use the information you provide in their reports to the DLC.

The policy should address how the premises will maintain the amenity and good order of the venue and how the applicant will deal with minors and intoxication.

A basic policy needs to address:

  • minors
  • intoxication
  • staff and manager training
  • being a good neighbour
  • age verification
  • remote sales.

Minors

Training

Your policy needs to describe:

  • how you will ensure that all staff are trained in their responsibilities under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol act 2012 in relation to minors
  • what instructions you will give staff to make sure they know how to identify and proactively deal with minors
  • what tools you have provided your staff to accurately work out the age of customers from their date of birth on their identification (ID), for example, the online birth date identifier.

Best practice

You should:

  • ask for identification (ID) if a customer looks under 25 years of age
  • not serve customers in school uniform, regardless of their age or ID
  • ask each member of a group of young people purchasing alcohol for ID to make sure it is not being purchased for consumption by a minor in that group.

Strategies

Your policy must detail the strategies you will have in place to deal with minors.

Questions to answer include:

  • Are all staff aware of what forms of identification to request from potentially underage minors entering your business?
  • Can any staff member, or just the duty manager, ask minors to leave the premises?

Managers

You must appoint managers with the correct certifications to cover the hours you will be trading.

Managers should not be rostered to work for excessive hours. You must comply with the requirements of employment law.

Preventing and dealing with intoxication

All staff must be trained in their responsibilities under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 to prevent the sale of alcohol to intoxicated people.

Staff need clear instructions to identify and proactively deal with intoxicated persons.

Noticing signs of intoxication is essential to meeting the requirements of the act, prohibiting the sale of alcohol to intoxicated people.

Your policy will need to detail:

  • how you will ensure that all your staff are trained in their responsibilities under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol act 2012 in relation to intoxicated patrons
  • who will carry out the training and what records will be kept
  • instructions you will give to staff to make sure they know how to identify and proactively deal with potentially intoxicated people
  • which staff have the authority to ask patrons to leave the premises.

Best practice

If a customer is visiting a premises more than once a day, take extra care to determine whether the customer is intoxicated or needs support of any kind.

Remote sales

Off-licence businesses that mainly sell alcohol across the counter need to consider their responsibilities when selling alcohol remotely.

The following points need to be considered:

Delivery of remote sales

No delivery of remote sales is permitted between 11pm and 6am.

Best practice would be to require your deliverer to check the ID of the receiver of the order and also whether they are intoxicated or not. They should also never leave alcohol if no one is at home.

Licence

You must display on your website:

  • a copy of your licence in a prominent place
  • the licensee's name
  • licence number
  • licence expiry date.

This information must also be on all receipts issued for remote sales.

You can find all these details on your licence.

Reasonable steps to verify age

Your policy needs to explain what reasonable steps you will take to verify that the buyer (and the receiver) of any alcohol that you sell by remote sale is not under the age of 18 years old.

You will be considered to have taken reasonable steps to verify if you comply with the procedures set out in regulation 14 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Regulations 2013.

In the case of internet sales, this means having tick boxes to enter the site and again at the checkout to declare that the buyer and the receiver is/are 18 years or over.

Suggested wording for tickbox messages: Please confirm that you are aged 18 years or over and that the receiver of the alcohol purchased is also aged 18 years or over.

It is not compulsory for you to follow the verification procedures set out in regulation 14 but if you do not,  you have no statutory defence to remotely sell to a minor.

You can set up your own procedures  in your policy, as long as they are found to be 'reasonable steps'.

Alcohol promotions

The act creates offences and penalties for certain irresponsible promotions or activities. When you need to promote your licensed premises, you must take care not to undertake promotions that conflict with the act.

Do not have promotions that:

  • encourage the excessive consumption of alcohol
  • are likely to have special appeal to minors.

Except for inside your store, no promotion must take place that:

  • leads people to believe (or is likely to lead people to believe) that alcohol will be sold at a discount of 25 per cent or more
  • offers any goods or services or the opportunity to win a prize, on the condition that alcohol is purchased - this includes offering free delivery.

Safe environment and being a good neighbour (amenity and good order)

Part of being a good licensee is in maintaining a safe environment and being a good neighbour.

Noise, litter, anti-social behaviour, and congestion around licensed premises can detract from amenity and good order and cause concerns for the community.

They can also impact on a licensee’s suitability. As a licensee you have a responsibility to prevent your business causing anti-social behaviour in and around your premises.

What steps will you take to address noise, litter and anti-social behaviour around your premises?

Writing your own policy

Use our template to help create your own social responsibility policy.

Our template is an example template of the minimum required standard acceptable to the District Licencing Committee (DLC).

​More information

For more information, see Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

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