Public health & alcohol licensing

The 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 multiple 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 ran from September 2016 to May 2018 and was 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 results and outputs

Practice-focused resources:

The full report from the PHAL study, including case studies, key findings and recommendations, is now available here: Final report

An executive summary highlighting the key findings is available here: Exec Summary

A graphic illustrating key steps to strengthening public health contributions to alcohol licensing can be downloaded here: Pathway graphic

Academic papers:

The first of three academic papers from the PHAL study has been published in Journal of Public Health and describes perceptions of how to strengthen the role of public health in alcohol licensing:

Reynolds, J; McGrath, M; Engen, J; Pashmi, G; Andrews, M; Sharpe, C; Egan, M; Lim, J; and Lock, K.  (2018).  ‘A true partner around the table?’ Perceptions of how to strengthen public health’s contributions to the alcohol licensing process, Journal of Public Health, , fdy093,

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