Chapter 6: Managing Troublesome Patrons
Under the Liquor Act 2019, it is an offence to serve an intoxicated person under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and there is a requirement to exclude or remove intoxicated people from your licensed premises. A licensee can be fined over $30,000 if they are found guilty of serving alcohol to an intoxicated person. Licensees and staff that supply liquor are required to complete a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) certification within seven days of commencing employment at a licensed venue and must complete a RSA refresher program every three years after that. Licensees are required to maintain a RSA Training Register and keep copies of staff certifications. These programs teach staff, among other things, strategies to handle difficult customers. In addition, the Liquor Act 2019 sets out a number of reasonable situations in which a licensee and/or their staff has the power to refuse entry or service to a patron. These are:
- If the staff/licensee believe the person may commit an offence against the Liquor Act.
- If they believe the person will become intoxicated.
- If they may engage in violent or disorderly behaviour in or in the vicinity of the licensed premises.
- If they have, in the 12 months prior, engaged in violent or disorderly behaviour in or in the vicinity of the licensed premises.
- If the person in question has been convicted of an offence relating to the possession or supply of drugs in the licensed premises within the past 12 months.
Police must, on the request of the licensee or staff, assist in removing or excluding any person from a licensed premise in accordance with the situations outlined above.
Once a person has been removed or excluded from a venue they must not re-enter for the following 12 hours.
Licensee, police and venues staff must not use an attribute specified in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 section 19(1) as reason to exclude or remove a person from the premises.
In the Northern Territory, there are other special requirements that may result in the exclusion or removal of persons from licensed venues. These are;
- Liquor accord: If you are a member of a liquor forum, members of the forum may agree to ban a troublesome patron from the licensed premises of forum members.
- Banned notice: Police hold the right to serve a person with a banning notice or exclusion order which excludes them from a high risk area or specific licensed premise for a period of 14 days from issue.
- Banned drinking register: Take-away alcohol sales require photo ID to be scanned into the banned drinking register which records those who are banned from purchasing take-away alcohol to reduce alcohol related harm in the community.
Things that live music venues can do to meet best practice include:
Training and communication
- Develop a patron code of conduct and display it at all entry points. A patron code of conduct outlines patrons’ responsibilities and the conditions of entry into the venue.
- Ensure that bar staff and crowd controllers are aware of the expectations, policies and procedures regarding venue operations.
- Hold a debriefing for staff and crowd controllers at the end of each night to discuss any security issues and identify areas for improvement.
- Keep a security incident register, review it regularly and make the necessary modifications to security management to address recurring problems.
- Ensure that a staff member with first aid training is rostered on at all times and first aid materials are stocked up regularly.
- Ensure pricing practices and promotions do not encourage alcohol misuse or rapid consumption.
- Promote alcohol-free beverages, low-alcohol beverages, bar snacks and meals, and encourage patrons to drink water.
- Develop a crowd management policy that aims to defuse high-risk situations and minimise the potential for antisocial behaviour to escalate.
- Facilitate staff and crowd controllers communicating about crowd behaviour by providing appropriate communication equipment.
- Ensure that crowd controllers clearly understand their roles and responsibilities, including diffusing issues before they escalate and the appropriate levels of physical Intervention.
- Designate an area in the venue away from the main entertainment area where potentially violent situations can be defused.
- Establish strategies for clearing objects that could inadvertently cause injury or be used as a weapon, such as glasses, bottles and chairs in walkways.
- Consider installing CCTV at entries and queuing areas to assist in surveillance and deter antisocial behaviour.
- Ensure that bar and security staff have a clear view throughout the premises. This might include raising the level of the floor behind the bar, removing promotional materials or furniture that obstruct the view between the entry and the bar, or relocating lighting controls for easy access by bar staff and crowd controllers.
Northern Territory Government
The NTG website contains information on the legal requirement regarding intoxicated patrons and includes a list of common signs of intoxication.
Find more information - Rules for Serving Alcohol
Hospitality NT have resources to assist licensees and their staff to navigate the Banned Drinking Register. These include checklists, staff scenario handouts and staff policies.
Find more information at Hospitality NT.