Licensing Key Facts

The Licensing Act 2003 supports a number of key aims and purposes and these are vitally important and should be principal aims for everyone involved in licensing work. This includes encouraging greater community involvement in licensing decisions and giving local residents the opportunity to have their say regarding licensing decisions that may affect them.*

The licensing authority (Local Authority licensing department) must have in place a Statement of Licensing Policy which sets out how it will carry out its function in respect of individual applications made under the terms of the Licensing Act 2003.

Everywhere that supplies (sells) alcohol must have a premises licence, including supermarkets, convenience stores, pubs and restaurants that supply (sell) or serve alcohol. These are either permanent premises licences or Temporary Event Notices for specific events (the public cannot object to Temporary Events Notices only the Police and Environmental Health).

The Licensing Act 2003 sets out four statutory objectives. Licensees must demonstrate how they are going to promote these objectives within their application in order to be a responsible retailer. All licensing decisions must also be made with reference to the four licensing objectives (below):

  • The prevention of crime and disorder (includes anti-social behaviour / assault / selling alcohol to under 18s / selling illicit alcohol / having registered door supervisors / illegal workers)
  • Public safety (the physical safety of people, prevention of accidents and injuries and other immediate harms resulting from alcohol consumption such as unconsciousness or alcohol poisoning, fire safety, appropriate access for emergency services)
  • The prevention of public nuisance (noise nuisance / light pollution, noxious smells and litter that affect those living and working near a licensed premises)
  • The protection of children from harm (includes harm from alcohol consumption i.e. supplying (selling) alcohol to under 18s / child sexual exploitation / prevention of access to premises that provide adult entertainment / restrictions of access during certain times)

The Licensing Act 2003 lists the responsible authorities (below) and their role is to assess all licence applications, make relevant representations and request review of licences when it is deemed relevant:

  • The Licensing Authority
  • Chief Constable Police
  • Fire and Rescue Service
  • Director of Public Health
  • Trading Standards Department
  • Environmental Health Department
  • Planning Department
  • Area Child Protection Board
  • Home Office

Note: Members of the public can also request that the licensing authority review a licence. More information on this can be found within the licence review section of the "What You Can Do To Get Involved" page.

The government issue the following guidance in respect of alcohol licensing: Revised guidance issued under section 182 (April 2018) of the Licensing Act 2003 can be found by clicking here.

Each council website will have an area that holds all licence applications and you will need to check the site on a regular basis to find out about applications in your area. To find yours, please visit the the Alcohol Licensing site for your area.

*Section 182 Guidance, April 2018, P1, para 1.5