The Role of the Designated Premises Supervisor

Designated Premises Supervisor


What is a Designated Premises Supervisor?


Under the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003, with the exception of certain community premises, every premises licence that authorises the sale of alcohol must specify a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS).

A Designated Premises Supervisor is usually the person who has been given day-to-day responsibility for the running of the business by the premises licence holder. As a personal licence holder the DPS is also responsible for authorising the sale of alcohol.

Only one Designated Premises Supervisor may be specified in a single premises licence, although the same DPS may supervise two or more premises as long as s/he is able to ensure that each premises complies with the licence conditions and that the licensing objectives are properly promoted.

It should be noted that there is no requirement to have a Designated Premises Supervisor in relation to a Temporary Event Notice or Club Premises Certificate, where the sale or supply of alcohol does not need to be authorised by a personal licence holder.


Who can be appointed Designated Premises Supervisor?


The Designated Premises Supervisor must be nominated by the premises license holder and have given written consent to being specified as premises supervisor, such consent to accompany the application for the premises licence.

The DPS must also be applying for, intend to apply for or currently hold a personal licence, for which s/he must satisfy the following criteria:


a. S/he must be aged 18 years or over.

b. S/he must, if subject to immigration control, have permission to work in a licensable activity.

c. S/he must, in most cases, hold a relevant licensing qualification to confirm his/her occupational competence, such as the BIIAB Level 2 Personal Licence Holders Award or a similar accredited qualification.


Where an applicant’s permission to live and work in the UK is time-limited, a personal licence may be issued but will lapse once the individual ceases to be entitled to work in the UK.

A personal licence will otherwise remain valid unless surrendered, suspended, revoked or declared forfeit by the courts. The requirement to renew a personal licence was removed from the 2003 Act by the Deregulation Act 2015.


What are the responsibilities of the Designated Premises Supervisor?


Due to its impact on the wider community, the sale of alcohol carries with it greater responsibility than licensing regulated entertainment and late night refreshments. As such, sales of alcohol may not be made under a premises licence unless there is a Designated Premises Supervisor in respect of the premises, who must hold a personal licence.

The DPS need not be present at all times, although every sale of alcohol must be made or authorised by a personal licence holder.

The Designated Premises Supervisor will act as the primary point of contact for the licensing authority, the police and the fire service. Accordingly, s/he must be easily contactable and be able to answer any questions relating to the day-to-day running of the business. The DPS must also have a good understanding of the social issues and potential problems associated with the sale of alcohol.

The DPS must ensure that the business is run in accordance with the conditions of the premises licence and that the licensing objectives are properly promoted. These objectives include the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm.


Can a Designated Premises Supervisor lose their licence?


It is a mandatory condition under the 2003 Act for a Designated Premises Supervisor to hold a personal licence. In circumstances where the DPS does not hold a valid personal licence or his/her licence has been suspended, the sale of alcohol is not permitted by law.

There are two main ways in which the Designated Premises Supervisor may have their licence suspended or revoked:


a. The 2003 Act provides for the suspension and forfeiture of personal licences by the courts following convictions for relevant offences, including breaches of licensing law.

b. Amendments introduced to the 2003 Act by the Policing and Crime Act 2017 give the licensing authority a discretionary power to suspend or revoke personal licences following convictions for relevant or foreign offences, or where the licence holder has been subject to a civil immigration penalty.


Where the courts have already considered the personal licence of a Designated Premises Supervisor and decided not to take action, this does not prevent the licensing authority from deciding to take action itself.

It is therefore important to ensure that your Designated Premises Supervisor makes you aware of any pending criminal charges, as well as any immigration issues that may potentially result in the imposition of a civil penalty or affect his/her permission to work in a licensable activity.


What are the penalties for not having a Designated Premises Supervisor?


Under the Licensing Act 2003 it is a mandatory condition that no supply of alcohol may be made under the premises licence at a time when:


a. There is no Designated Premises Supervisor in respect of the premises licence, or

b. The Designated Premises Supervisor does not hold a personal licence or his personal licence is suspended.


If you choose to sell alcohol without a Designated Premises Supervisor, or without a DPS who holds a valid personal licence, as a premises licence holder you run the risk of being convicted of a criminal offence under the 2003 Act. This could potentially result in an unlimited fine and/or six months in prison.

Furthermore, any breach of the mandatory conditions of your premises licence could result in a potential suspension or revocation of your licence.


Points to remember when appointing a Designated Premises Supervisor


Notwithstanding the mandatory nature of appointing a Designated Premises Supervisor, the importance of this role can often be overlooked. An ill-advised appointment could have serious practical and financial consequences for your business, so caution must be exercised when making your DPS selection.

When deciding who to appoint as Designated Premises Supervisor consideration should be given to the following matters:


a. The DPS acts as a representative of your business. This individual must not only have sufficient knowledge of the licensing objectives, conditions of the premises licence and the business itself, they must be able to deal with officials and the general public alike. Moreover, s/he must be trustworthy, responsible and reliable.

b. Although licensed premises can only have one Designated Premises Supervisor, it is always advisable that you have at least another member of staff with a valid personal licence to allow you to apply for a variation of DPS. This may prove necessary where your existing premises supervisor leaves at short notice, or s/he has had their personal licence suspended, revoked or forfeited.

c. The police can object to an individual being specified as a DPS on a premises licence where they are satisfied that the exceptional circumstances of the case are such that granting the application would be to the detriment of the crime prevention objective. You should therefore make all necessary enquiries prior to nominating a Designated Premises Supervisor, as any objections could delay your application.


You should also monitor the performance of any Designated Premises Supervisor once s/he has been appointed. In the event that your DPS fails to comply with the conditions attached to the premises licence, or otherwise fails to promote the licensing objectives, s/he is at risk of having their personal licence suspended or revoked.


Legal disclaimer


The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.




The Role of the Designated Premises Supervisor 1

Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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