An evaluation of Scotland's Licensing 2005 Act has been released, reporting positive impacts such as fewer irresponsible promotions and benefits of an appointed Licensing Standards Officer (LSO) for each council.
Download the Licensing (Scotland) Act Evaluation Final Report.pdf
Scotland's Licensing Act came into effect in September 2009 and outlaws promotions providing alcohol free of charge, or at a discounted price on the purchase of one or more drinks. It also bans licensed premises from offering happy hours, drinking games or speed drinking deals.
The report also found that mandatory training for LSOs, Board members and trade staff has increased knowledge and standards of professional practice. However the report also identified a number of challenges and less successful aspects, including limited progress on off-sales and the public health objective.
Dr Evelyn Gillan, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said in a press release:
"The Licensing Act has reduced irresponsible promotions in pubs and clubs, but cheap, high strength alcohol is still being sold in off-sales, particularly supermarkets. To address this, we need minimum pricing implemented without further delay."
In 2011 Alcohol Focus Scotland and the Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) released a report 'Re-thinking Licensing', calling for licensing boards to make more effective use of licensing legislation and outlining ideas to promote the public health objective.
NHS Scotland also recently released a report which found the Alcohol (Scotland) Act, which included a ban on multi-buy promotions, was associated with an overall 2.6% decrease in off-trade alcohol sales.
Lessons for England?
In England new licensing powers have been in effect since last year as part of the the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act (PRSA) 2011. The changes included councils becoming 'responsible authorities' but options to implement Late Night Levys or Early Morning Restriction Order (EMROs) have not yet been taken up.
A number of toolkits and guidance documents have since been released to try and support local action, including developing effective public health responses. However with public health absent from England's licensing act core objectives, progress will rely on good data sharing to improve responses to existing objectives.
However Liverpool council have recently reported cracking down on off-licenses selling cheap alcohol using a Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP) approach. CIPs, sometimes known as saturation zones or stress areas, are deisgnated areas where new applications or longer hours are typically prevented. See here for local CIP guidance from Southwark.