Pub and bar operators have been told to be on alert for more licence inspections if a proposal in the Government’s Alcohol Strategy becomes law, writes Adam Pescod. While minimum pricing has grabbed the majority of headlines around the strategy, a plan to let police community support officers (PCSOs) enter pubs to deal with breaches of licensing law could also prove significant for operators. The Alcohol Strategy states: “Where local communities think tools are not targeted or effective enough, we will give the police and local partners faster and more flexible powers to tackle local problems. “We know, for example, that increasing numbers of licensing teams are now made up of PCSOs and will therefore explore the benefit of an additional discretionary power for PCSOs to enter licensed premises.” This power is currently reserved for police constables and licensing officers. However, some in the pub trade believe that PCSOs may not be able to act in the same capacity, if the legislation comes in. Legal expert Peter Coulson said: “If brought in, this would be a case of throwing the book at the licensed trade and saying ‘we know where you are, we know where you live’.” He added: “It could potentially increase the number of visits to pubs (by authorised persons), but whether or not they (PCSOs) would have the power to do anything on the spot is a moot point. “I think it is more likely that they will be given the power to conduct simple inspection visits.” Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls said: “This obviously means that licensees are going to have be more alert as there may be PCSOs visiting pubs on a more formal basis.” A Home Office spokesman said: “The Government is radically reshaping the approach to crime, policing and health in this country by giving back power to local communities.”