Reducing harm caused by alcohol


New licensing policy review guide

Alcohol Focus Scotland has published a new licensing policy review guide

Licensing boards are legally required to publish statements of licensing policy at least once every five years. These documents are intended to provide local stakeholders with an indication of how the boards will manage the licensed premises in their area, outlining their approach to matters such as opening hours and children’s access.

Policy statements are a potentially valuable tool in helping to make licensing decisions more strategic. Their development provides boards with the opportunity to stand back from routine administrative practice and consider the bigger picture in relation to licensing in their area. Patterns and trends in alcohol problems can be examined with remedial and preventative licensing action identified. Using a published policy to guide licensing practice supports consistent and well-reasoned decision-making and can help make the licensing process more transparent.

After each local government election, local licensing boards have a period of 18 months to review and update their policies. This means that new licensing policies need to be published by November 2023.

To support this process, Alcohol Focus Scotland has produced a new licensing policy review guide, intended to supplement existing AFS guidance about the development of licensing policy with learning from the last round of policy review in 2018.

This guide should be read in conjunction with the AFS:

The new guide provides practical suggestions to support people to engage in the review process effectively and respond to consultations launched by licensing boards. Additionally, the guide seeks to make recommendations to licensing boards relevant to their licensing objectives and local context.