Public health & alcohol licensing

Pouring pintThe Public Health and Alcohol Licensing (PHAL) study

Exploring influences on public health contributions to alcohol licensing processes in local government

Background and aim

The recent relocation of public health into local authorities (LAs), and the designation of public health as a ‘responsible authority’ (RA) with a right to comment on alcohol licence applications, have provided increased opportunities for public health to shape the local alcohol environment in England and Wales.  However, the success of public health contributions to the licensing process, and the range of factors shaping how and when they seek to make representations (or comments) on applications are not clearly understood.

This study explored the range of factors that shape when and how public health practitioners make representations on licence applications, and the outcomes of these, across LAs in London.  As part of this, we examined the use of a Public Health Alcohol Licensing (PHAL) guidance tool (developed by Safe Sociable London Partnership), to interpret how it influences practitioners’ approaches to and successes with alcohol licensing work.

This study runs from September 2016 to May 2018 and is funded through the NIHR School for Public Health Research Public Health Practice Evaluation Scheme (PHPES).  The study collaborators include London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Safe Sociable London and the London Healthy Place Network.

Study design and methods

This was a mixed-methods study involving a range of licensing stakeholders from across 24 of the 33 local authorities in London.  Data collection comprised:

  • ethnographic observation of public health practitioners’ licensing work;
  • a survey to capture an overview of public health licensing approaches;
  • focus group discussions with public health and other responsible authority practitioners;
  • interviews with a range of practitioners and elected members;
  • analysis of routine public health licensing data collected over a 9 month period.

Study outputs

The full report from the PHAL study, including case studies, key findings and recommendations, an executive summary, and a graphic illustrating key steps to strengthen public health contributions to alcohol licensing will all be available here by the end of May 2018.

Study updates

Previous project updates are available here.

Want to know more? 

For more information about the study/ recruitment contact  (Assistant Professor, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)

To find out more about the PHAL tool you can contact the team by visiting the Safe Sociable London Partnership website

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