This study aimed to understand more about how public health practitioners in London undertake alcohol licensing work and the factors that shape how they can influence licensing decisions.
July 2016 - May 2018
Evaluating the impact of a Cumulative Impact Zone Policy to reduce alcohol-related harms in Islington Local Authority
Research Team: Dr Karen Lock, Dr Matt Egan, Dr Triantafyllos Pliakas, Dr Sarah Milton, Dr Claire Thompson, Dr Daniel Grace & Elizabeth McGill
Who's involved: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
May 2014 - October 2016
Islington has one of the highest densities of pubs, bars, clubs and off licences in the country and second highest in London after the City of Westminster (ie the West End). Alcohol consumption has been identified as a major factor behind violent crime and disorder in the borough with consequences to victims, businesses and local communities. Islington’s residents also suffer from high levels of alcohol-related ill health and early deaths.
The Licensing Act 2003 enables English local authorities to implement Cumulative Impact Policies (CIPs). CIPs strengthen the powers of local authorities to reject licence applications for retail alcohol sales in cumulative impact zones (CIZs), where adverse effects of high alcohol availability can be demonstrated.
This evaluation focused on the introduction of Cumulative Impact Zones across the London Borough of Islington in January 2013, but also took into account concurrent implementation of other aspects of the current Alcohol Licencing Strategy (2013-2017) including a focus on reducing premise trading hours, reducing off-licence availability, and improving the quality of alcohol retailing overall.
The policymakers and practitioners that implemented the CIP did not intend for the policy to reduce the number (or density) of premises selling alcohol in Islington, but aimed to reduce the impact of alcohol related harms in the Borough.
The results of the evaluation show that the Licencing Strategy overall, and the Cumulative Impact Policy specifically, have been broadly effective. The implementation of the strategy has met the objectives of reducing crime, anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related ambulance call outs, reducing the rate of successful applications for off-licences, reducing the average weekly trading times of alcohol licences granted.
Concurrently, three years after CIP introduction there have actually been increases in rates of alcohol licences granted overall. There also appears to be little or no impact on alcohol retail sales volume and sales revenues since 2013.
This evaluation appears to show that the London Borough of Islington’s Licencing Strategy and the CIP have reduced alcohol related harms without negatively impacting on the overall night-time economy in Islington and the ability of alcohol retailers to operate if they meet the conditions required.
SPHR final report: Evaluating the impact of a Cumulative Impact Zone
Grace D, McGill E, Lock K, Egan M. How do Cumulative Impact Policies work? Use of institutional ethnography to assess local government alcohol policies in England. The Lancet. 2014. Vol 384 Special Issue, S34, 19 November 2014.
Grace D, Egan M, Lock K. Examining local processes when applying a cumulative impact policy to address harms of alcohol outlet density Health & Place. 2016. Volume 40. pp. 76-82
Egan M, Brennan A, Buykx P, Vocht Fd, Gavens L, Grace D, Halliday E, Hickman M, Holt V, Mooney J D, Lock K.Local policies to tackle a national problem: Comparative qualitative case studies of an English local authority alcohol availability intervention Health and Place. 2016. Volume 41, September 2016, Pages 11–18.
Triantafyllos Pliakas, Matt Egan, Janice Gibbons, Charlotte Ashton, Jan Hart, Karen Lock. Do cumulative impact zones reduce alcohol availability in UK high streets? Assessment of a natural experiment introducing a new licensing policy. The Lancet 2016. Volume 388, Special Issue, S94, November 2016.
This collaborative research was undertaken as part of the SPHR Public Health Practice Evaluation Scheme (PHPES):
SPHR project poster: Evaluating impact of CIP on alcohol harms