Public health and the Licensing Act 2003

Whilst public health can contribute against any of the four existing licensing objectives, in practice it can be difficult for them to be heard.

The Licensing Act 2003 (the Act) introduced a modern, integrated scheme, administered by local authorities and covering the retail sale of alcohol, the supply of alcohol, the provision of various forms of entertainment and the provision of late night refreshment.

The focus of the Act is the promotion of the four statutory licensing objectives:

  • the prevention of crime and disorder
  • public safety
  • the prevention of public nuisance and
  • the protection of children from harm.

Under the Act, a range of public bodies known as responsible authorities must be notified of applications and are entitled to make representations on those applications to the licensing authority. Since 2013, directors of public health (DPH) in England have been included in the Act as responsible authorities.

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