Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 section 142: guidance for licensing boards and local authorities

Guidance on section 142 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 for licensing boards and local authorities.

11. Licensing Standards Officers


263. It is imperative that Licensing Standards Officers have a good understanding of the needs and aspirations of the licensed trade and work to build respect for the role by the judicious application of their powers. LSOs will require to be able to work with persons from every background. They will require to have diversity training to ensure their ability to properly handle themselves in different and potentially sensitive or difficult situations.

264. LSOs will have three main roles - Guidance, Mediation and Compliance.

265. It is anticipated that LSOs will be the first port of call for most matters pertaining to licensing. Licensees will make requests about applications and the general working of the legislation and national and local policies. The public will require information to enable them to make representations, to object or complain within the terms of the legislation. Licensing Forums and other interested parties may also require information and advice from LSOs.

266. LSOs will not be expected to give legal advice or make applications or objections on behalf of any party. Care should be taken in training to ensure that is understood by the LSOs and their customers. It is not anticipated that LSOs will be legally qualified, although this would not be a barrier to application, however their role must not be to give legal advice as this could lead to conflict of interest in any subsequent action by the LSO or the Board.

267. LSOs will be expected to be approachable and should have a sufficient knowledge of the business of the licensed trade to properly enable the functioning of the licensing service to the benefit of the trade and their neighbours and customers.

268. LSOs should be able to advise licensees as to what actions required to be taken to prevent or resolve complaints.

269. LSOs require to attend Local Licensing Forums. They should also consider forming links with other groups such as Local Alcohol Action Teams and keep the Local Licensing Forums and Boards up to date, if appropriate, with any new initiatives such as health initiatives which may have an impact on licensing.

270. Training should ensure the following

  • A sound understanding of licensing and other related legislation and regulations including interpretation of policies
  • A sound understanding of the business of the licensed trade
  • Proper concern for the rights of neighbours
  • Proper knowledge of the rights and duties of the licensee
  • A recognition of the extent of their role
  • A recognition of when to advise customers that legal or other advice should be sought
  • Confident people handling
  • The proper application of discretion
  • An understanding of licensing policy as it relates to health


271. LSOs will require to have some mediation skills. It is considered that in most cases these skills would involve the application of common sense. Examples of this would be when complaints were received from neighbours about noise problems at premises caused by the late night deposit of bottles in bottle banks. An LSO may be able to persuade the licensee to carry out this task at a more reasonable hour to resolve the issue.

Training should provide LSOs with the following skills-

  • Be confident working with a range of difficult people
  • Understand the pitfalls of working in situations where alcohol is a significant feature
  • Remain calm and professional during difficult encounters
  • Communicate effectively and build rapport under pressure
  • Have a range of ways of handling upset, aggressive and other difficult behaviour
  • Understand the personal safety issues involved in carrying out their role
  • Understand how to resolve disputes using a mediation-style dispute resolution
  • Remain impartial
  • Help people assess different ways of moving their situation forward
  • Encourage parties to resolve disputes by dialogue where appropriate
  • Be able to set up, structure and run a joint, face to face dispute resolution session
  • Understand when mediation-style dispute resolution is appropriate and when it is not

Compliance -

272. LSOs will require to ensure that licensees carry out their business in a manner which complies with licensing legislation, regulations and national and local policies. The legislation proposes wide ranging powers to enable LSOs to ensure this compliance.

273. In any case where an LSO believes business is not being carried out in such a manner, the LSO should make an initial assessment of the situation and in most cases it is expected that the LSO will be able to persuade the licensee to make changes to his operation to ensure compliance.

274. LSOs will have the power to require sight of any documentation relating to the legislation, regulations and policies e.g. training registers, the operating plan etc. LSOs will not have powers to demand sight of non-licensing documentation such as the financial records of a business. LSOs will have the power of entry at all reasonable times and otherwise should require a warrant. LSOs will not have the power to force entry to premises. The LSO role will in no way impinge on the role of the police who will still be the responsible enforcing authority for criminal matters. LSOs will require to keep in touch with the police to ensure that any enforcement action contemplated by an LSO did not harm any ongoing police investigation of the premises or persons connected to the premises.

275. LSOs will be required to submit reports on their progress to Boards, licensing forums and their employing local authorities and on occasion to submit applications for review of premises licences to Boards. The latter will require to be served as appropriate on persons concerned.

276. LSOs will present the case for review to the Board and will need to ensure that their case was able to be corroborated, whether by documentary evidence or witnesses to the matter requiring enforcement action.

277. LSOs will be accountable for their actions to their employers, the public and trade that they serve and the bodies to which they report. It is also assumed that they will require to submit statistical evidence on enforcement matters to the Scottish Executive.

278. There may be occasions when it would be unwise for LSOs to enter premises alone and on those occasions assistance should be sought from the police.


279. Training for LSOs should deliver:

  • Knowledge of enforcement provisions of legislation
  • Understanding of appropriateness of enforcement measures
  • Understanding of consequences of enforcement actions
  • The balance between the interests of the public and the licensee
  • An understanding of Health and Licensing issues
  • Ability to understand and interpret documentation
  • Negotiation skills
  • Ability to deal confidently with enforcement issues
  • Record keeping and writing skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Communications skills


280. LSO should be able to enforce Smoking Health & Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 providing appropriate training was to be given. However, this should be left to the discretion of local authorities.

Gaming Legislation

281. It would be appropriate for LSOs to monitor Gaming premises. However, this should be left to the discretion of local authorities.

Hours of work

282. LSOs would require to be flexible and be prepared to work evenings and weekends if required, although much of the role will be administrative and require dealing with licensees and others during the normal working day. It is not anticipated that an LSO would carry out enforcement matters otherwise than during the normal working day but would require to visit premises during unsocial hours only for information/evidence gathering purposes. The LSO should not go alone to premises at night.

283. Local Authorities may wish to establish a representative body of LSOs to provide a mechanism for sharing best practice.


Email: Central Enquiries Unit

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