The Home Office recently released 2016 statistics on alcohol and late night refreshment licensing in England and Wales, showing a further small but steady rise in the total number of licensed premises. Reviews of premises potentially causing problems have continued to decline, though the reasons behind this are unclear.
As of 31 March 2016 there were 210,000 premises licences in England and Wales, an increase of 3% (up 5,500) compared with 31 March 2014 when the data was last submitted by Local Authorities. The Home Office reports this is a 'broadly increasing trend seen since 31 March 2010' when 202,000 premises were recorded.
Public health groups and other supporters of minimum unit pricing (MUP) recieved welcome news last week as the Scottish Courts decided the measure could be justified under EU law.
Scotland had first passed legislation to implement MUP in 2012 but have been facing ongoing legal hurdles as a result of action led by sections of the alcohol industry. In January this year the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled it was for the Scottish Inner House of the Court of Session to decide on MUP, but could only agree it if 'proportionality' could be proved.
The Home Office has written to Local Authorities inviting them to apply to take part in the second round of the Local Alcohol Action Area (LAAA) project. Up to 40 areas in England and Wales may be chosen to receive support from 'central government and, where appropriate, the alcohol industry' - see the LAAA round 2 prospectus here [pdf].
The second round was announced earlier this year in the Government’s Modern Crime Prevention Strategy which emphasised local partnership approaches, particularly relating to initiatives to reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder. Local areas applying will be required to 'tackle one or more of a core set of challenges focused on preventing crime and disorder in the night time economy' that include:
Selected alcohol events and opportunities forthcoming in 2016/17:
Last Chance! Reducing alcohol consumption: guidelines, local government & digital tech
On Wednesday 12 October 16:30 – 19:30 in London, a UCL led event 'Reducing alcohol consumption: guidelines, local government and digital technologies' takes place. The free event will bring together researchers and practitioners to discuss the latest research evidence and research evidence gaps. See here for registration.
The BBPA says it has worked alongside Drinkaware and National Pubwatch to create the campaign, which "aims to support staff in upholding these laws and ensuring a safe and sociable drinking environment".
However the extent to which posters can change the behaviour of either bar servers or customers is uncertain; indeed posters designed to promote responsible drinking have been shown to potentially have the opposite intended effect.
Welsh Government attempts to set a minimum 50p per unit (MUP) have been blocked by Westminster in a move criticised by Doctors - BBC News. MPs refused to devolve pricing powers to the Welsh Government who would seek to stop alcohol being sold "cheaper than water".
The growing number of older people being treated for alcohol dependence is 'all over us like a rash', according to an article in The Huffington Post. The number of people in England aged over 60 being treated for alcohol dependence rose 38% between 2009/10 to 2013/14 as 'the ‘Baby Boomer’ Generation continue with hedonistic lifestyles into their later years'.