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The Licensing Act is Ineffective and Costly

A new study by the Local Government Association has found that the Licensing Act (2003) has not delivered the promised reductions in alcohol-related disorder and violence. Furthermore, council taxpayers have footed a bill of £100m for the introduction of the new system.

The survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) of councils, Primary Care Trusts and police authorities found that, whilst the new laws have been effective in simplifying and streamlining licensing laws, they have done nothing to reduce drink-related violence and have placed increased pressure on local services.

On a positive note, the report also concludes that the Act has had a positive effect in the way that public sector organisations work together, with three quarters of police authorities and PCTs saying they now work more closely than before on licensing issues.

The survey was conducted via telephone interview and sought the judgement of those working closely with alcohol issues; it did not seek to obtain objective data. To the question, “What overall effect do you think the Licensing Act 2003 has had on the level of alcohol-related incidents in your area?” PCTs were more likely to say that incidents had increased than decreased (29% vs. 18% of responses) whereas the police and councils were more likely to say that incidents had decreased (10% vs. 25% and 4% vs. 16%, respectively). However, the majority reported no change (57% overall, in addition to 10% who said that they didn’t know).

Of those who said that the Act had increased alcohol-related incidents, 86% of PCT respondents felt that it had put pressure on resources. There were too few police respondents to give meaningful results for this question. 94% of local authority respondents thought that their resources were more stretched, with none thinking they were less so.

In general, organizations felt that they worked more closely together since the introduction of the Act. This was particularly marked for the relationship between the police and local authorities.

Download the full report here. (pdf 309kb)