THE police should not be allowed to submit evidence in private during council hearings, the authority's licensing chief has said. A senior police officer said earlier this month that police attempts to deal with troubled nightspots are being "severely hindered" because they are unable to present intelligence in court, and before the council's licensing committee, without compromising their sources. In a letter to the council, Chief Inspector Duncan Slade said discussing sensitive evidence in public meant police had to use "sweeping statements that we ask are taken on trust". Speaking to the Advertiser this week, Maria Gatland, chair of the licensing committee, said she would not support a change in policy to allow private submissions. "That would be beyond the pale," she said. "I have great respect for the licensing police. They do a difficult job very well. "But, when it comes to committee I expect them to present the evidence they are basing their representations on. "We want to give everyone a fair hearing because as well as promoting the licensing objectives, we are talking about people's livelihoods." Chief Insp Slade raised his concerns ahead of a review of the Crown & Pepper's licence, which was prompted by the landlord's refusal to voluntarily close when warned about a potential gang attack at the High Street pub. During the hearing, the chief inspector said he was unable to go into the full details of the police's case because it would put investigations, and sources, in danger. The committee acted on police recommendations and suspended the pub's license for two week, but Chief Insp Slade said: "Were I able to put a full intelligence picture before you...we might be looking at more serious consequences." He stated that reluctance to detail evidence had been an issue with previous closure orders, but Cllr Gatland said: "It's the first time in my memory that this particular problem has been brought up. "I would expect with police work that intelligence is going to be fluid and there might well be times when they can't [discuss in public] but if they are going to make representations as a responsible authority it has to be able to withstand scrutiny from the committee. "That said, the guidance does allow us to lean toward the police as long as it's reasonable and we believe what they are saying."
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