Lonsdale College, the First University Bar to Fine Students for Being Drunk?

[Image Credit: Shay]

Today the students of Lonsdale College received an ominous email from the College Administrator Juli Shorrock about a “Drunkenness Crackdown,” leaving many students baffled with no explanation as to why this sudden order has been put in place. After the recent threat of closure to the Red Lion bar last year, surely this is the last thing the bar needs when trying to attract business?

According to the email “students found in Lonsdale bar or coming out of the bar who appear to be drunk to a porter, college officer or assistant dean will be required to identify themselves and will be summoned to a disciplinary hearing.” Firstly, lets address the statement “students who appear to be drunk,” does this mean the college has some kind of drunk barometer to measure a students drunkenness? Maybe they will be required to do a walk placing one foot in front of other, possibly take a breath test or even recite a riddle? Secondly,  students must “identify yourselves” besides from sounding like a line from the Harry Potter film with Dolores Umbridge instigating a dictatorship on the students, why must we have to “identify” ourselves to the College? As far as I am aware the bar is open to students and non-students alike, are they going to discipline any Joe Bloggs off the street who is a little bit pickled in the bar?

What has shocked students the most however is the threat of an extortionate fine by the College if they are seen to be “drunk.” Students will be fined £200 for “being drunk,” the same price as a deposit for a single room in a Lonsdale residence, £250 for “buying a drink for someone who is drunk” and £250 for “selling a drink to someone who is drunk.” Under section 5 of the Public Order Act being “drunk and disorderly” can land you £80 fine, a fraction of the price in comparison to Lonsdale’s £200, and this only applies when someone is showing threatening or disturbing behaviour. It is not a crime to be drunk,* especially in a University bar and introducing fines for students being drunk in a bar is like fining a football fan for being drunk in a pub before the match.

In recent years the Lonsdale JCR has worked tirelessly to get more students to go to the College bar by putting on events, drink deals and socials. The bar was almost shut down due to lack of custom, so this latest action by the College is baffling. Surely this will put students off going to the bar and probably once again bring about the threat of closure. Many students have taken to the social networks to express their disbelief and have emailed back in response which has been “forwarded to the dean.” Alex Roberts, former Lonsdale JCR member and Red Lion bar staff, sent an email in response to the fines stating “I appreciate that you have to be responsible and look after the welfare of myself and my fellow students… (But) these students who allow themselves to get into this condition will not stop doing so simply because the college bar will fine them. They will simply get into that condition somewhere else. Somewhere that will be further from their homes, further from the support network currently provided by the college, and therefore further away from safety.”

It will be interesting to see how the College polices this new regulation throughout the year, especially at big inter-college events such as founders and Extrav, which are usually the most popular socials and prime money making events for the bar, not to mention how this will affect Freshers Week 2014…

By Lizzie Roberts

*As it has been noted in the comments, I would just like to clarify that I have now learnt that it in fact a crime to be drunk in public place, whether you are causing a public disturbance or not. Please excuse that incorrect statement.

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8 thoughts on “Lonsdale College, the First University Bar to Fine Students for Being Drunk?

  1. Just so you know, it is an offence to be drunk in a licensed premises (Section 12 Licencing Act 1872). It’s also an offence to sell alcohol to someone who is drunk (Section 141 Licencing Act 2003). The fine for selling alcohol to a drunk person is up to £1000 if I recall correctly. I’m not defending Lonsdale’s decision to do this, but you’re misleading readers by suggesting that they’re fining people for doing something which is acceptable in the eyes of the law.

    • Hey thanks for the clarification! I know it’s illegal to sell alcohol to someone who is drunk, but still it’s not a crime to just be drunk is it? The email said students in or around the bar so say a student is walking back to their flat drunk they’re saying they will fine them which just seems crazy! Thanks for the comment 🙂 – Lizzie

      • The exact wording from the 1872 Act is “Every person found drunk in any highway or other public place, whether a building or not, or on any licensed premises, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding …” so yes – it is an offence to be drunk. And it would seem that applies anywhere public, not just bars. In practice the police don’t tend to enforce this!

      • It is perfectly legitimate for a university to impose fines for something which is contrary to the laws of the land (as MR has kindly pointed out). Police tend not to enforce this as rigorously as they perhaps could due to the sheer number of potential offenders. However, to state that ‘it is not a crime to be drunk’ is completely incorrect.

  2. Pingback: Edubabble – Lancaster University To Fine Students £200.. For Being Drunk

  3. The Licensing Act is updated all the time, the current act that bartenders work to is The Licensing Act 2003 – can people please stop quoting the 1872 act? Do you know how ridiculous you sound?
    And yes, it is illegal to be drunk in a licensed premises, as it is also illegal to sell alcohol to a drunk person, the judgement of who is drunk however is entirely at the bartender’s discretion, and we are trained to spot the signs as part of our education on the job. We know what the term ‘drunk’ means in both a legal sense and a colloquial one, and there’s a big difference.

    • What does the 2003 act say about being drunk in a public place in general, not necessarily a licensed premises? As in the email stated if students were drunk outside of the bar they would be fined, does this comply with the act? thanks for the comment!

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