Alcohol Licensing

Historically, licensing has been concerned primarily with crime and disorder, trade regulation and public safety. However, it is argued that because health impacts are linked to alcohol consumption, and consumption is influenced by availability, there is a need for public health bodies to play an active role in licensing activities and the regulation of the number of premises that sell alcohol in a defined area.

Licensable activities covered under the Licensing Act 2003 include:

  • The sale of alcohol by retail
  • The supply of alcohol by or on behalf of a club or to the order of a member
  • The provision of regulated entertainment (e.g. performance of a play, boxing match, performance of live music)
  • Provision of late night refreshments (the supply of hot food or hot drink to members of the public on or off the premises between the hours of 11:00pm and 05:00am including takeaways and burger vans)

Applications for a licence are made to a defined list of responsible authorities (RAs). The role of RAs is to comment on applications and make representations to the licensing authority if they think the application threatens one of the statutory licensing objectives.

The licensing objectives under the 2003 Licensing Act are:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder
  • Public safety
  • The prevention of public nuisance
  • The protection of children from harm

Local information can be obtained from:

Further information about links between alcohol licensing and health is available from:

Interesting Facts

  • More than 9 million people in England drink more than the recommended daily limits
  • Alcohol misuse costs England around £21bn per year in healthcare, crime and lost productivity costs
  • In the UK in 2012-13, there were 1,008,850 hospital admissions related to alcohol consumption where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary reason for hospital admission or a secondary diagnosis
  • Alcohol-related crime costs £11bn per year (2010-11 costs, England)
  • A fifth (20%) of all violent incidents in 2010–11 took place in or around a pub or club. This rises to 30% for stranger violence. More than two thirds (67%) of violent offences occur in the evening or at night and 45% at the weekend


1 -NHS, 2012 ‘Social Drinking’ The Hidden Risks
2 – House of Commons Health Committee, 2012, Government’s Alcohol Strategy
3 – Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2014, Statistics on Alcohol – England, 2014
4 – National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (June 2010), ‘Alcohol-use disorders – preventing
harmful drinking: costing report’, p. 12; Home Office (November 2012), ‘A MINIMUM UNIT PRICE FOR ALCOHOL: Impact Assessment’, Alcohol Strategy Consultation, p. 5
5 – Office for National Statistics, 2013, Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offenses 2011/12