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BC’s Responsible Beverage Service Program

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Implementing Responsible Beverage Service

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Record Incidents and Share Information

3. Record incidents and share information

Management and staff need to discuss and practice ways to refuse entry to anyone who is a minor, intoxicated or potentially troublesome. In addition, management and staff must record incidents to preserve evidence and in order to share the information with others. An incident can include refusal of entry at the door or refusal of service at the table because customers were minors or intoxicated. It can also include any other illegal or questionable acts by problem customers. You will learn more about how to prevent and resolve difficulties using specific intervention strategies later in the section.

When an incident occurs at an establishment, it is crucial that the evidence relating to that incident is preserved. A lawsuit can be initiated several years after the incident occurs. The memories of those who witnessed the incident will fade over time, so their evidence should be gathered as quickly as possible.

There are three steps to record incidents and share information:

1) Establish a system of recording incidents

When an incident occurs, it is important to make a record of both the employees' recollections of the events as well as an account of the incident from any witnesses. The police may ask the establishment to provide an official statement about the incident. Therefore, the policies and procedures of an establishment should state that employees who are working at the time of an incident are required to complete statements about the circumstances of the incident when requested. The manager on duty should also seek contact information from any other witnesses to the incident and if possible obtain statements from them about the incident. These statements should be as detailed as possible.

It is important to train staff not to provide statements regarding an incident to anyone without first speaking to management. If the police request an official statement, the establishment should contact their insurer immediately. Management should also notify its insurer if the incident may lead to legal action against the establishment.

Incident records should be preserved for at least seven years. In most instances, a person's right to sue for an incident in an establishment ends after two years. However, there are circumstances in which a legal proceeding may be commenced against an establishment several years after the incident.

2) Use a dedicated logbook

Staff should use a dedicated logbook to record incidents when they have had to refuse service because customers were minors or intoxicated. This logbook can list the names and/or images of people refused or ejected in the past for causing any disturbances. This logbook can then be signed by the manager and shows that an establishment is abiding by the laws.

Logbooks should be bound books, not loose-leaf binders, because in court a bound book will have more credibility than a binder that could be easily altered. If the book contains page numbers printed in sequence, even better. By having a tamper-proof, bound book it will be difficult to remove reports, while evidence of tampering is often apparent and provable.

Recording events in a logbook while they are still fresh in everyone's mind is crucial. This ongoing record of problem patrons will help to identify persistent issues and encourage management to review policies from time to time. An accurate and complete log, together with sales slips, may form the backbone of a defence in civil litigation and in enforcement hearings before the liquor authority. Consider posting the images of people refused or ejected near the door (in a private and discreet place) or in a staff area for their reference. It helps to build a picture of any problem patterns.

3) Capture a detailed account of the incidents

As soon as an incident has been taken care of, it is important for the manager or licensee to check that the key details are captured and that all sales records associated with the incident are preserved. Details should include the time, place, date and nature of the incident, a description of the parties involved, the action taken, the names of witnesses and any other pertinent information.

Managers should use the entries as a learning tool and debrief staff after all incidents. This gives managers an opportunity to improve procedures and house policies, and to praise or correct staff performance.

Check the Resources section for a sample of the information that should be included in an incident report.

Helping your co-workers become effective in implementing the RBS program is largely a matter of communication. Staff must communicate with each other, informing co-workers about any difficulties that they have experienced and with whom. Staff should also have a clear understanding of their rights, responsibilities and the house policy, in the event that they encounter people who must be denied entry, staff should be familiar with the various approved methods to handle these situations most effectively.

Maintain close liaison with local law enforcement agencies to keep abreast of any criminal activities in your area. Join your local Neighbourhood Watch or Bar Watch program to engage the community and help create a safe environment in which to operate your business.