More tools needed to control availability of alcohol, says charity
20 / 06 / 2012
A new report from Alcohol Concern Cymru says that licensing authorities in England and Wales need more powers to better regulate the availability of alcohol in their areas.
The report Full to the brim? says that, alongside increasing the price of alcohol, restricting the number of places where alcohol is sold is an effective way of reducing alcohol related harm.
The charity argues that giving licensing authorities more tools to control the availability of alcohol, particularly in town and city centres where large numbers of premises sell alcohol in close proximity to each other, will help in the fight to drive down levels of alcohol related harm.
Mark Leyshon from Alcohol Concern explained:
"It's well-established that two of the key ways to reduce alcohol related harm are increasing the price of alcohol and restricting its physical availability. Minimum unit pricing is soon to be introduced in England and Wales, but we would also like to see changes to the licensing laws that will give local authorities greater powers to control the density of outlets selling alcohol."
"The gradual relaxing of licensing laws in recent years has meant it's much easier to get hold of alcohol, with an increased number, size and type of licensed premises meaning that town and city centres are able to accommodate more and more drinkers. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost, namely increased rates of binge drinking and alcohol related violence, and consequently many of us regard our town centre as a place to avoid at night."
"In its new alcohol strategy, the UK Government is right to recognise that local communities should be able to limit outlet density where this is contributing to harm. England and Wales should follow Scotland's example, where licensing bodies have extra powers to refuse applications for new licenses in areas where they have identified an overprovision of alcohol outlets."
"Ultimately, the goal must be to find an acceptable balance between an attractive and vibrant night-time economy and one that is not dominated by the sale and consumption of alcohol."
Alcohol Concern recommends that:
- England and Wales should follow the example set in Scotland's licensing legislation, which requires licensing authorities to have regard to the number and capacity of licensed premises in localities when making their licensing decisions
- As in Scotland, the protection of public health should be included as a fifth objective of the Licensing Act in England and Wales, allowing local councils to make licensing decisions on the basis of the impact on local health
- Licensing authorities should continue to investigate and adopt local interventions that may help reduce levels of alcohol related harm caused by high outlet density in town and city centres
- Local residents must be able to voice their views about outlet density and have a greater say in licensing decisions made in their locality, and local councils should work to encourage this.