We’re calling on the government to include ‘public health’ as a licensing objective in England and Wales so that licensing bodies must take local alcohol harm data into consideration when making decisions.
Alcohol licensing in England and Wales
Alcohol licensing laws determine when, where, how, by whom and to whom alcohol can be sold. Licensing has the potential to be a powerful tool in tackling alcohol harm. However, better guidance and enforcement of the current legislation, as well as legislative reform, is required.
At the core of the regulations in England and Wales are the licensing objectives. These are the only metrics by which licensing authorities can weigh an application and determine whether to accept or deny it. License applications must be granted unless very specific criteria for rejection are met – this means nearly 97% of alcohol licence applications are granted.
There are currently four licensing objectives in England and Wales: the prevention of crime and disorder; public safety; the prevention of public nuisance; and the protection of children from harm.
Why does alcohol licensing matter?
Implemented well, licensing could be an effective way to support the well-being of local people, local communities and local economies. The availability, promotion, and price are all key drivers of alcohol harm. If effectively enforced alcohol licensing can have greater control over these factors.
The current alcohol licensing system is concerned primarily with crime, disorder and trade regulation instead of the well-being of people and the sustainability of town centre economies. It does not enable local authorities to take a strategic view of the total availability of alcohol in their area. This limits their ability to make decisions that promote the health and well-being of local people and nurture a diverse local economy.
Local authorities want to make decisions in the interest of their communities. But there is no legal objective currently in place in England and Wales to consider public health when making decisions about the availability of alcohol.
It is hard to take licences away from those who supply the alcohol that fuels disorder and damages health. This is particularly the case with new off licences, where the impact and harm normally occur away from the premises.Local Authority Licensing Officer
What is the Alcohol Health Alliance campaigning for?
We need a licensing system that listens to local communities and protects people’s health and well-being. More power should be given to local people and local authorities to take into consideration the total number of premises selling alcohol and the impact of this on the health and well-being of the local population.
We are calling on the government to:
- Include ‘public health’ as a licensing objective in England and Wales so that licensing bodies must take local alcohol harm data into consideration when making their decisions.
Campaign with us
Sign up to our campaigners mailing list and help us bring an end to alcohol harm