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What to do when an investigator attends your venue

As seen in the August edition of the QHA Review.

With one financial year behind us and a new one underway, EOFY parties, football finals and the Melbourne Cup on the horizon make this a busy trading period for hotels across the state. As we know, bigger functions can sometimes lead to a spike in unpleasant behaviour from patrons, so we thought it timely to provide a quick refresher on the powers of investigators at your venues.

Investigators and their powers

An investigator can be a police officer or any other person authorised by the Chief Executive of the OLGR. They must be issued with an identity card and cannot exercise their powers unless they show you their identity card first. You should always ask the investigators to produce their identity card so you know who you are dealing with before they commence their investigation.

An investigator has limited powers to enter and search the premises under the Liquor Act 1992 (the Act) for the purpose of:

  • finding out if you are complying with the Act; or
  • obtaining evidence of an offence against the Act if the investigator reasonably suspects that there is particular evidence of an offence at your venue.

Once an investigator is lawfully on the premises, then they have broad powers to exercise their duty including but not limited to:

  • searching your venue;
  • inspecting, examining and filming anything in or at the venue or seizing property from the venue; and
  • taking extracts or making copies of any documents you are required to keep at your venue.

Your obligations

You, your staff and patrons must:

  • reasonably assist the investigator in their investigation;
  • if asked, correctly advise an investigator of your name, address and age - an investigator may require evidence of its correctness if they believe on reasonable grounds that the information is false; and
  • answer any questions asked by the investigator, provided the investigator reasonably believes that the person they are questioning is able to provide relevant information and the questions are relevant to the administration or enforcement of the Act.

You should let anyone being questioned by an investigator know that they do not have to answer an investigator if they believe they will incriminate themselves by doing so. The right for an investigator to ask questions is a broad power, and allows investigators to request you, your staff and patrons to attend an interview. The interviews are generally recorded.

If you or your staff are requested to attend an interview, you should consider whether you need to:

  • contact, or have your solicitor contact, the OLGR before the interview and get full particulars of the matter concerning the OLGR and what they believe is your involvement;
  • engage a solicitor and request that your solicitor attend the interview to ensure that your rights are protected and that the investigators only interrogate you on matters relevant to the issue.

It is a fineable offence if you do not comply with an investigator's requests without a reasonable excuse.

Additional compliance requirements for venues in the Brisbane City Council area

It is important to note that there are some requirements specific to venues in the Brisbane City Council area, including:

CCTV

  • You must keep all CCTV recording required under the Act in a secure place;
  • These recordings must be made available for inspection and viewing either until they are erased or given to an investigator.
  • A recording must be erased or destroyed (by a licensee or approved manager only): 
    • If no incident recorded - no less than 28 days after the recording is made but within 58 days of when the recording is made.
    • If there is an incident recorded – not less than one year and 28 days after the recording is made.

Incident register

  • Licensees must keep an incident register about each incident at the premises where a person is injured or a person is removed from the premises.
  • This register must be kept in a safe and secure place and be available for inspection by an inspector.

If you have any queries in relation to your rights and obligations where an investigator has attended your venue, please contact Mullins on 07 3224 0230.

Article written by Curt Schatz (Managing Partner) and Scott Vanderwolf (Associate).

"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."