Reducing harm caused by alcohol


AFS publish Review of Licensing Board Annual Functions Reports 2017-2018

As a result of concerns about a lack of transparency and accountability in the licensing system, licensing boards were placed under a new duty to produce annual functions reports. The first of these reports were required to be published for the 2017-18 financial year.  

AFS therefore conducted a review of the published reports in order to assess the extent to which they met statutory requirements, and also served to fulfil their intended purpose of increasing transparency and supporting local communities to see how licensing boards conduct their business.

Annual functions report 2019 cover image

Our review indicates that not only do the majority of the reports reviewed meet minimum statutory requirements, but that many boards have applied additional good practice to better enable the public to see how they conduct their business.  It is apparent from the reports that boards in many areas are investing considerable time and effort to promote the licensing objectives and implement their licensing polices. The majority of the reports also allow for some scrutiny and analysis of the board’s decision making.  While there are many examples of good practice that can now be shared and built upon, a number of the reports contain only minimal information and are unlikely to enable communities/stakeholders to scrutinise and understand the operation of the licensing system in their local area.  It is also apparent that several of the reports have not been written with the public in mind.

Well-considered functions reports provide a vital means for boards to set out their ongoing progress towards achieving the licensing objectives, and how they are adhering to and applying their policies in practice. However, the wide variation between the reports indicates that licensing boards require further guidance from the Scottish Government, especially regarding how they should approach the production of reports and what types of information they should contain.   The findings of our review also point to a number of recommendations to ensure that annual functions reports fulfil their intended purpose and are of use to all stakeholders.  
We hope that the report will be useful to licensing boards, to those who support them, and also those with a role in reviewing and scrutinising the licensing system in their area.

Read the full report.