How can communities influence alcohol licensing at a local level? Licensing Officers’ perspectives of the barriers and facilitators to sustaining engagement in a volunteer-led alcohol harm reduction approach

Cathy Ure, Elizabeth J Burns, Suzy C Hargreaves, Mira Hidajat, Margaret Coffey, Frank de Vocht, Suzanne Audrey, Sue Hare, Kate Ardern, Penny A Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Despite the World Health Organization's assertion that communities need to become involved in reducing alcohol harm, evidence of community engagement in alcohol licensing decision-making in England remains limited. The evaluation of the Communities in Charge of Alcohol (CICA) programme offers policymakers, Licensing authorities and public health practitioners, evidence regarding a specific volunteer-led, place-based approach, designed to enable community engagement in licensing with the aim of reducing localised alcohol harm. This study explored factors affecting the sustainable involvement of volunteers in alcohol licensing decision-making from six licensing officers' perspectives, through semi-structured interviews. Routinely collected crime, disorder, and hospital admissions data were reviewed for further context as proxy indicators for alcohol-related harm. Licensing officers perceived sustainable engagement to be impacted by: (i) the extent of alignment with statutory requirements and local political support; (ii) the ability of licensing officers to operationalise CICA and support local assets, and; (iii) the opportunity for, and ability of, volunteers to raise licensing issues. The perspectives of licensing officers indicate complexities inherent in seeking to empower residents to engage in licensing decision-making at a community level. These relate to statutory and political factors, funding, social norms regarding engagement in licensing decision-making, and the need for networks between critical actors including responsible authorities and communities. The evidence indicates that after increasing community capacity to influence alcohol availability decision-making at a local level, communities continue to struggle to influence statutory processes to affect alcohol availability where they live and work. More understanding of how to enable effective community engagement is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103412
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Volume98
Early online date27 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The evaluation is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Programme (Grant reference number 15/129/03 ). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

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