Call to rein-in alcohol licensing

Licensing

​Report finds licensing decision greatly impact on the health of communities 

13th December 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Alcohol licenses granted to pubs clubs and shops are increasing in line with alcohol-related health problems, campaigners have warned.

A new report from Alcohol Focus Scotland shows action is needed to ensure licensing works more effectively to protect people and communities from harm.

It found the current system too complex and difficult for local people to get involved in shaping licensing policy and decision-making. It said there are disagreements about the role and purpose of alcohol licensing, particularly between those working in licensing and those working in public health.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "Licensing is devolved to local boards so that decisions can better meet the needs of local communities. Unfortunately, too often the people and communities affected by licensing decisions are unable to voice their opinions because of the complexity of the system.

"Despite one million Scots drinking too much, and the harm this causes to individuals, families and communities, we have seen an increase in the number of licensed premises over the last six years.

“It seems that every corner shop now sells alcohol, as well as many petrol stations, sandwich bars and coffee shops. We need a clearer expectation from Scottish Government of how licensing can and should contribute to reducing consumption and harm in communities across Scotland.”

Alan Murray, senior community nurse addictions at NHS Lothian said: "As the recent chair of a local licensing forum I have witnessed first-hand the obstacles that local licensing boards face in developing a licensing policy that effectively addresses the overconsumption of alcohol in our communities. 

“All of our authorities tasked with addressing this pressing public health concern should take note of this detailed work by Alcohol Focus Scotland and work together to develop an effective strategy to tackle this important public health issue."