Reducing harm caused by alcohol


New resource for people concerned about alcohol in their community

Alcohol Focus Scotland has developed a toolkit to help people raise concerns about the impact of alcohol in their local community. The toolkit explains how the licensing process works in Scotland and provides practical tips for people who want to get involved but aren’t sure where to start.

Local licensing boards have a duty to take account of the experiences of the people affected by their policies and decisions. This means listening to the views of the constituents they represent as well as front line workers like police, paramedics and doctors who deal with the effects of alcohol day in day out.

But the bureaucracy of the licensing system means local residents and community groups can find it difficult to feed in their views. This toolkit will help people understand and navigate the licensing process, and make sure their voices are heard.

Licensing boards make important decisions which shape our neighbourhoods, towns and city centres. The more places selling alcohol in an area, the more likely it is that the people who live there will experience negative consequences, from noise and anti-social behaviour to ill health and injury.

The vast majority (91%) of Scots think there are already enough or too many licensed premises in Scotland yet only 3% of licence applications were refused last year. This suggests that more needs to be done to give people the knowledge, skills and confidence to speak up about any concerns they have about alcohol in their local communities.

Community licensing toolkit and Alcohol licensing contacts in Scotland

Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said:

“We are all affected by the decisions that licensing boards make. They decide whether a new supermarket or pub should get a licence, whether opening hours should be extended or whether an occasional licence should be granted for an event.

"We know that the more easily available alcohol is, the more health and social problems occur. In fact, neighbourhoods with the most licensed premises have alcohol-related death rates twice those of neighbourhoods with the fewest. We hope this toolkit will empower people to play their part in making our communities healthier and safer by reducing alcohol-related harm.”

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson said:

“The damaging impact of alcohol misuse is clear. That is why there is legislation in place to control where and when it is sold. I believe that our local communities have the most insight on these issues, however they can struggle to get their views heard. 

"This invaluable resource will help them to have their say and I congratulate Alcohol Focus Scotland for making this happen.”

Roger Colkett, member of Tollcross Community Council said:

“When I took on the responsibility for dealing with licensing issues on behalf of Tollcross Community Council, I had very little knowledge of the Licensing Act, little understanding of the wider impact of alcohol and no experience of the procedures of Edinburgh Licensing Board. Had this toolkit been available then, it would have saved me a great deal of time, trouble and anxiety, particularly when attending Licensing Board meetings to speak in support of objections.”