The practice of people bringing alcohol to unlicensed venues and community events can raise questions as to whether the practice is lawful, or if the premises is being used as a ‘place of resort’. Organisers of community events generally enjoy strong relationships with local Police, and work together to ensure events are well run, safe, enjoyable and lawful.
The information below is intended to guide Police and our partners on our approach in this area.
General Police approach: Enabling safe community events
It is important that communities have trust and confidence in their police.
We want to support safe, well run community events and practices. Where there is a history of responsible management, our people are encouraged to take a pragmatic and enabling approach, using the guidance below to inform their individual discretion and judgement.
Consistent with our Prevention First operating model, Police takes a harm prevention approach and applies the Graduated Response Model to inform decision-making when enforcement is required.
Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (the Act) provides the overarching legal framework for how Police carries out engagement, education and when necessary, enforcement functions, together with its statutory partners, to reduce alcohol related offending and victimisation.
The object of the Act is –
(a) the sale, supply, and consumption of alcohol should be undertaken safely and responsibly; and
(b) the harm caused by the excessive or inappropriate consumption of alcohol should be minimised.
Further information on the operation of the Act can be found on Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.
‘BYO’ in legislation
The only reference to BYO in the Act is in the context of on-licenses (eg, pub, tavern, hotel, restaurant, cafe, bar). BYO restaurants may obtain an endorsement to their on-license which allows the licensee to let diners consume alcohol they have brought with them with their meal.
Buying and taking alcohol to another place to consume is not unlawful in itself unless, for example, there is an alcohol ban in place, the premises and event is subject to a special license, or the premises are being used as a ‘place of resort’.
What is a ‘place of resort’?
The ‘place of resort’ offence (section 235 of the Act) marks the line between lawful, but unlicensed, drinking environments and the kind of social gathering that will require an alcohol license.
Under section 235, it is an offence for a person to allow their unlicensed premises to be used as a ‘place of resort’ for the consumption of alcohol. Section 236 creates an accompanying offence for any person found consuming alcohol on those premises.
Features that turn a lawful gathering into a 'place of resort' include:
- People gathering specifically to drink (which must be a substantial, although not necessarily the main, purpose of people attending)
- Drinking that reaches a certain threshold of intensity (involving more than isolated or casual consumption of alcohol, in a passing or transitory way)
- The BYO aspect being 'actively facilitated' (e.g. explicitly advertised, encouraged or managed).
All of these features must be present for a breach of section 235 to occur and will be taken into account when assessing whether a premises is being used lawfully or as a 'place of resort'.
In assessing the first two factors, Police will look at the purpose and nature of the event, and the level of drinking, intoxication and resulting harm.
For the third factor, Police may look to any advertising or promotion of ‘BYO’ for the event, as well as any activity that seeks to manage the consumption of alcohol outside of licensed areas.
Police approach to engagement, education and enforcement
Police will often know ahead of time if someone is planning to run an event that could trigger sections 235 or 236 of the Act. In these circumstances, Police will work with organisers to provide advice on ways they could avoid section 235 issues (based on the guidance above) or offer licensing advice to the organiser, to ensure the event can be held safely and lawfully.
For the most part, this collaborative approach prevents the need for enforcement action by Police. However, situations can be dynamic: Police has a general duty to uphold the law and retains the discretion to take enforcement action if circumstances require. Police will apply the Graduated Response Model to guide decision making, recognising that compliance with legislation can be achieved through engagement, education and as a final option, enforcement.