Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
This is the Act from which most of the legislation and some police powers are derived. Whilst other legislation exists to deal with other substances, the main drug related offences that are relevant to licensed premises are contained within this Act.
Offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
• Unlawful possession of a controlled drug
• Unlawful possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply
• Supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug or being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug
• Production or being concerned in the production of a controlled drug
• Cultivation of a cannabis plant
• Being the occupier, or concerned in the management of premises who knowingly permits or suffers any of the following activities to take place on those premises:
a) Producing or attempting to produce a controlled drug
b) Supplying or attempting to supply a controlled drug to another, or offering to supply a controlled drug
c) Preparing opium for smoking
d) Smoking cannabis, cannabis resin or prepared opium
Premises licence holders must be aware that offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act may result in the loss of their licence.
Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 – controlled drugs
The drugs which come under the control of the Act, are split into three classes – class A, B, and C, in accordance with their toxic effect, frequency of misuse and the perception of their danger to society. In some cases a drug may fall into two classes, depending on how it is prepared for use. The class also determines the penalties for misuse offences. Class A attracts the highest penalties.
The law explained
a) UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED DRUG
This offence may apply where a controlled drug is found to be in the possession and control of a person. The drug’s status does not need to be known by the person in possession of it.
b) UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED DRUG WITH INTENT TO SUPPLY
This offence may apply where a person is found with a large amount of a drug too large to be described as for ‘personal’ use. The circumstances in which the person was found, the actions prior to the find, and what that person may say will be important. A person found on licensed premises in possession of a number of tablets or a number of individual wraps of a drug may be liable to prosecution for this offence. There does not need to be any drugs recovered to render a person liable to a contravention of Section 4 (3) (b). Paraphernalia or associated documents indicative of dealing are sufficient.
c) SUPPLYING OR OFFERING TO SUPPLY A CONTROLLED DRUG
Supplying means any of the following:
• Selling, giving or sharing, or offering to supply a control
• Actual drugs do not need to be recovered in order for a person to be liable for a contravention of Section 4 (3) (b). Paraphernalia or associated documents indicative of dealing are sufficient.
This following section is the most relevant to the premises licence holder or manager.
|BEING THE OCCUPIER OR CONCERNED IN THE MANAGEMENT OF PREMISES, WHO KNOWINGLY PERMITS OR SUFFERS CERTAIN ACTIVITIES TO TAKE PLACE ON THOSE PREMISES
This means that an occupier, who has a degree of control over the state of the premises or over the activities of the persons on the premises, or who is concerned in the management of, knowingly allows certain offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to take place.
‘Knowingly’ has to be proved in this case. Turning a ‘blind eye’ to obvious activities will constitute ‘knowingly’.
Police rights of entry
A police officer can enter and search any licensed premises at any time if they have reason to believe that an offence has been, is being or is about to be committed. No search warrant is required.
Police powers to close premises
The Anti-Social Behaviour Act gives the police the power to close premises for up to 24 hours where there is production and/or supply of class A drugs. This is in addition to the powers police have to close specific premises if they believe there is or is about to be, disorder at the premises and closure is necessary in the interests of public safety.
Review of the premises licence
A review of the premises licence ensures that the licensing objectives are complied with and in particular that the community is protected from crime, disorder and nuisance. In simple terms, if there are problems arising from a particular premises, a review of the licence can be expected.
An application for a review of the premises licence can be made by the police, another authority or an ‘interested party’. An interested party can be anyone who lives or works near the premises.
A review of the licence involves a formal hearing. As a result the licensing authority may take any of the following steps:
• Modify the conditions of the licence, for example, restrict the opening times
• Exclude a licensing activity, for example, not allow entertainment or the sale of alcohol
• Remove the designated premises supervisor (the person who is in day to day control of the premises)
• Suspend the licence for up to 3 months
• Revoke the licence.
Suspension of the personal licence
On conviction for a relevant offence, the courts may suspend a personal licence for up to 6 months.
Forfeiture of the personal licence
A conviction for a drugs offence could result in the forfeiture of the personal licence. A person who has had his personal licence taken away (forfeited) cannot apply for a new licence for 5 years. That person may also be refused a personal licence even after 5 years if the conviction is not spent. Also note that a person who is nominated as designated premises supervisor and who then loses his personal licence, cannot continue to be the designated premises supervisor.
Note that the text above is taken from BIIAB’s Level 2 Award in Drugs Awareness Workbook (8th Edition August 2010). For more information on this qualification either visit www.biiab.orgor contact BIIAB’s qualification team at [email protected].