UK alcohol policy since 2002 – the key documents

This page brings together key UK Governmental documents on alcohol policy since 2002.  The 2003 and 2005 Licensing Acts introduced changes to licensing practice and the hours during which alcohol could be sold.  There have also been many initiatives, strategies and committee reports which have contributed to changing public and political debate.

Documents are listed chronologically. Full copies can be downloaded by clicking on the titles. The titles of primary legislation are in capitals and take you to online versions which are more easily searched.


alcohol strategy 2012

The Government’s Alcohol Strategy (Home Office, 2012)
Strategy setting out the Conservative – Liberal Coalition’s proposals for reducing alcohol related harm. Notable for the Prime Minister’s commitment to Minimum Unit Pricing – subsequently abandoned.


hc response to strategy 2012 Government’s Alcohol Strategy (Report of the Health Committee, 2012)
Report into the 2012 Alcohol Strategy by the Health Select Committee.



ho s182 guidance Amended Guidance under s.182 of the Licensing Act 2003 (Home Office, 2012)
Home Office Guidance for local licensing authorities. Contains the framework for the establishment of Cumulative Impact Zones.



science committee guidelines Alcohol Guidelines (Report of the Science and Technology Committee, 2011)
Report into the development of recommended guidelines on alcohol consumption by the Science and Technology Select Committee.



bis pubcos 2011Pub Companies (Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, 2011)
Report into operation of pub companies by the Business, Innovations and Skills Select Committee.  Calls for the introduction of a statutory code to regulate pubcos.



health committee 2010

Alcohol (Report of the Health Committee, 2010)
A major report into alcohol policy, health impacts and economy by the Health Select Committee. Calls for the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol.


alcohol scotland act 2010

Legislation setting out further amendments to licensing regulations in Scotland, including restrictions on multibuy discounts for alcohol.


cms committee 2009 The Licensing Act 2003 (Report of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, 2009)
A review of the operations and impact of the 2003 Licensing Act by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.



changing scotlands relationship Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol (Scottish Government, 2008)
Report setting out the Scottish Government’s framework for tackling alcohol consumption and harm in Scotland.



safe sensible socialSafe. Sensible. Social (Department of Health and Home  Office, 2007)
Subtitled ‘The next steps in the national alcohol strategy’, this sets out further targets for alcohol harm reduction in England. It also contains the framework for the establishment of Drinkaware as an industry-funded alcohol education charity.


scottish action plan 2007Plan for Action on Alcohol Problems: Update (Scottish Executive, 2007)
Report updating the 2002 Plan for Action on Alcohol Problems and setting out strategies on licensing controls, education and industry partnership



drinking responsibly

Drinking Responsibly: The Government’s Proposals (Office for the Deputy Prime Minister, 2005)
Report proposing measures to tackle antisocial behaviour in the light of concerns following the implementation of the 2003 Licensing Act.  It includes proposals for ‘Alcohol Disorder Zones’ which were introduced under the 2006 Violent Crime Reduction Act.


licensing scotland act 2005 LICENSING (SCOTLAND) ACT 2005
Legislation produced in line with the findings of the Nicolson Committee. As with the 2003 Act, it removes statutory restrictions on hours of sale and introduces licensing objectives – but includes a fifth objective for the promotion of public health.


tic pubcos 2005 Pub Companies (Report of the Trade and Industry Committee, 2005)
Report into the effect of pub companies on the retail trade, with consideration of proposals to introduce a statutory code regulating the relationship between pubcos and tenants.



AHRSE Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England (Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, 2004)
The first national alcohol strategy for England. It sets out the New Labour Government’s key approach to alcohol harm reduction, which focussed on education, light-touch regulation and partnership with the alcohol industry.


strategy unit 2003

Alcohol Misuse: How Much Does it Cost? (Strategy Unit, 2003)
Interim report from the Strategy Unit setting out core evidence on the costs of alcohol. This provided the basis for the subsequent Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy


nicolson committeeNicolson Committee Review of Liquor Licensing Law in Scotland (Scottish Executive, 2003)
Report into Scottish licensing which formed the basis for the 2005 Licensing (Scotland) Act



licensing act 2003

The first major overhaul of licensing in England and Wales since the 1964 Licensing Act, this removed statutory restrictions on hours of sale, moved responsibility for licensing into local authorities, and introduced four licensing objectives which provide the basis for licensing decisions.


Plan for Action 2002Plan for Action on Alcohol Problems (Scottish Executive, 2002)
Plan for action outlining priorities for reducing alcohol problems in Scotland, defining the parameters for intervention and identifying key policy targets