Sleaford pub where 15 year old girl was found working behind bar faces licensing hearing

A Sleaford pub could have its premises licence revoked next week after police found a 15 year old had been serving drinks behind the bar and a customer was ejected after reporting drug dealing to staff.

Licensing review for the Bull and Dog in Sleaford. EMN-211126-170817001
Licensing review for the Bull and Dog in Sleaford. EMN-211126-170817001

North Kesteven’s Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Sub-Committee will meet on Wednesday to consider a request by Lincolnshire Police to review the Bull and Dog pub in Southgate as Lincolnshire Police believe the management were failing to uphold the terms of the licence to prevent crime and protect children from harm on a number of occasions.

The report says Clifford Hutson has managed the premises since 2007 and is currently both the Premises Licence Holder (PLH) and Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS). The sub-committee will decide whether to impose sanctions on Mr Hutson which could involve suspending or removing his licence to run the pub.

Lincolnshire Police say they have had cause to visit the premises on many occasions in the last year.

They say on every recent occasion officers attended the premises in an evening but were never greeted by Mr Hutson, but instead his business partner or other staff members “who were often obstructive to police officers, this despite Mr Hutson being somewhere within the premises”.

Officers claim that Mr Hutson appeared to defer all management responsibility to his business partner; however, the business partner is not the licence holder nor designated premises supervisor, nor does he hold a personal alcohol licence and he has stated that he was unaware of his responsibilities of working in a public house as this had not been relayed to him and he was still learning.

“This highlights the lack of training offered by Mr Hutson to his staff members who in his absence would have responsibility of promoting the licensing objectives,” says the police statement.

The police also refer to instances where he has failed to comply with conditions of his licence in that he failed to provide CCTV when requested to verify an incident in the pub when a person was allegedly removed by door staff with “excessive force” on June 29.

Pc Jonathan Jones, the force’s licensing officer says that Mr Hutson later revealed in a discussion he had never shown his business partner how to properly use the CCTV.

According to the premises licence, an incident book should record crime and disorder. No such book could be presented on a visit on September 9 in relation to the incident in June - a criminal offence.

In further submissions, on September 10 intelligence was received that a 15-year-old was working behind the bar serving alcohol after midnight, when someone of that age must not be working later than 7pm.

The following day police also received an allegation that a woman who was offered drugs within the pub was ejected by a member of staff she had reported it to.

On September 15 officers revisited the pub and found no record of the drugs report in the incident book. They state: “A check of the premises CCTV system identified that there was a female working behind the bar beyond midnight. Mr Hutson stated that she was 15 years of age and had started work at 10pm. He also informed officers that there was no work permit in place for that child.”

Children under 18 are not allowed to be at the bar and under 16s are not allowed on the premises after 10pm.

Pc Jones submitted evidence to NKDC for the review. In a statement he says on November 9 he was made aware of an incident at the Bull and Dog on September 18 where a woman was sexually assaulted on the dancefloor at 11.50pm. She reported this to door staff who ejected the offender. He added: “Though not reported at the time to Lincolnshire Police, the injured party did so by way of an online reporting system. As part of the investigation police officers attended the Bull and Dog. Whilst there they reviewed the incident book to see if any details of this incident had been recorded, which there had not.”

Lincolnshire Police add: “Mr Hutson has clearly demonstrated that he has failed in his duties both as Premises Licence Holder and Designated Premises Supervisor.

“In light of this, Lincolnshire Police request that the licensing committe give serious consideration to having Mr Hutson removed as Designated Premises Supervisor.

In a further complaint a nearby Jermyn Street resident, Jocelyn Cooney, has submitted that pub management showed a “total disregard” for residents due to related anti-social behaviour by customers in teh outdoor area to the rear of the pub including screaming, fighting and swearing, with loud music spilling out of open doors and patrons urinating and vomiting in the street outside her house.

“We cannot slep until the pub closes at 3.30am,” claims the resident who has been complaining to NKDC about it for over three years. “We feel intimidated and unsafe”, she says.

The Sub Committee must make its decision within five working days of the end of the hearing.