Public health alcohol licensing tool evaluation

Pouring pint

Exploring influences on public health contributions to alcohol licensing processes in local government: an evaluation of the Public Health Alcohol Licensing (PHAL) Tool

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.

We want to explore 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 are evaluating 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 March 2018 and is funded through the NIHR School for Public Health Research Public Health Practice Evaluation Scheme (PHPES).

 Key research questions

  1. How does the PHAL tool influence the practice and outcomes of public health practitioners’ engagements with the alcohol licensing process?
  2. What kinds of contextual processes, relationships, and structures shape, and are shaped by, public health practitioners’ contributions to alcohol licensing in LA settings?
  3. How can public health practitioners’ contributions to alcohol licensing processes be strengthened?


We are conducting this study across multiple LAs in Greater London, to explore experiences and perspectives from a range of contexts, and from practitioners using and not using the PHAL tool.

Study design and methods

This is a mixed-methods study, incorporating ethnographic observation of practitioners’ licensing work; interviews with a range of stakeholders; a survey to capture an overview of public health licensing approaches; prospective collection of licensing data to assess outcomes of public health representations; and participatory group discussions.  We are engaging with public health practitioners, officers from other RAs (including police, licensing, trading standards), and members of council licensing committees.

Recruitment of participating local authorities

We are actively recruiting practitioners from LAs across Greater London to participate in different phases of the study – see contact details below.

Project updates

Keep up to date with project progress and opportunities to be involved 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

Comments are closed.