New powers have come into force which make it easier for police and local authorities to force a pub to shut immediately and restrict access to the premises.

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act is designed to overhaul the existing system for dealing with anti-social behaviour.

Under the powers contained in the legislation, individuals and problem licensed premises will be targeted.

Four existing closure powers will be combined into one civil power — the community protection order (closure), enabling police and local authorities to force a pub to shut down immediately for up to 48 hours, if there has been — or is likely to be — nuisance or disorder relating to the venue. An application may then be made to the magistrates’ court to extend the closure order for up to a maximum of three months.

In an update, licensing law firm Poppleston Allen said: “If the police or a local authority are satisfied on reasonable grounds that use of a particular premises has resulted or is likely to result in nuisance to members of the public, or that there has been or is likely to be disorder near the premises which is associated with the use of the premises then they may issue a closure notice which prohibits access to the premises for a period specified in the notice, up to a maximum of 48 hours.

“There are various rules in respect of notification requirements and service of the closure notice but there is no hearing, the notice applies immediately and so the premises must close immediately.”

Trade figures have previously warned that the new powers will used “as a weapon of first, not last resort”.