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

Download the full report here. (pdf 309kb)