Alcohol licensing


Most people drink alcohol and alcohol consumption has a clear impact on public health as it is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including: mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers; high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver; and depression and must therefore be consumed responsibly. Alcohol consumption is influenced by availability, so there is a clear link between public health and licensing activities.

The law prescribes that alcohol is an age-restricted product which should not be sold to young people under the age of 18 years of age.  However, whilst young people are particularly vulnerable to alcohol and the harm it causes because they are still developing both physically and emotionally, there are a wide range of negative societal consequences, including:

  • public order offences (often antisocial in nature, these can involve disorderly groups of people; rowdy, threatening and abusive behaviour; and urinating in public)
  • criminal damage
  • minor and serious assaults
  • violent offences
  • traffic offences

It is for these numerous reasons that premises in the borough that sell alcohol must be licensed to do so by Bracknell Forest Council under the Licensing Act 2003.

Key inequalities and risk factors

Separate JSNA chapters contain detailed information on the short-term and long-term dangers and risks factors associated with alcohol on young people’s health and development and adults.

Facts, figures and trends

The Licensing Act 2003  covers the issuing of licenses which permit the sale of alcohol and the enforcing of license conditions. “Licensing authorities” are responsible for administering licenses and the licensing authority for Bracknell Forest is the council.

The licensing objectives under the 2003 Licensing Act are:

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

Licensing authorities are required by law to publish details of certain applications on their website. These include:

  • new applications for premises licences or club premises certificates
  • some variations to existing licences/certificates
  • provisional statements – a signal of intent from a potential licensee

Historically, the number of licensed premises is as follows:





Numebr of new licenses





The regeneration of Bracknell Town Centre, particularly the entertainment district will impact on the number of new applications for licenses and potentially any breaches of licensing conditions.  The increased availability of alcohol may increase alcohol related offences, anti-social behaviour and injury which in turn may impact on demand for public services including police and health services.

Preventative measures

Bracknell Forest takes an asset based approach to reducing alcohol related issues in the borough with different agencies working together, often in a voluntary capacity, to ensure that residents are not adversely affected by licensed premises and that all people can enjoy the boroughs social and entertainment opportunities.

Protection of children from harm

The Drinkaware website makes it clear that it is against the law:

  • to sell alcohol to someone under 18 anywhere
  • for an adult to buy or attempt to buy alcohol on behalf of someone under 18. (Retailers can reserve the right to refuse the sale of alcohol to an adult if they’re accompanied by a child and think the alcohol is being bought for the child.)
  • for someone under 18 to buy alcohol, attempt to buy alcohol or to be sold alcohol.
  • for someone under 18 to drink alcohol in licensed premises, except where the child is 16 or 17 years old and accompanied by an adult. In this case it is legal for them to drink, but not buy, beer, wine and cider with a table meal.
  • for an adult to buy alcohol for someone under 18 for consumption on licensed premises, except as above.
  • to give children alcohol if they are under five.

Challenge 25’ is a retailing strategy that encourages anyone who is over 18 but looks under 25 to carry acceptable ID (a card bearing the PASS hologram, a photographic driving license or a passport) if they wish to buy alcohol.  Licensed premises are encouraged to check a person’s age prior to selling them alcohol and to record attempts to buy alcohol illegally. These records are checked routinely when council officers visit premises and where they are not completed or reflect poor management control the designated premises supervisor will be advised.

The Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) is a UK-wide accredited proof of age scheme, backed by the British Retail Consortium, the Home Office, Thames Valley Police and Bracknell Forest Council. The Bracknell Forest e+ card has been granted PASS accreditation and is therefore a reliable proof of age.

It is noted in the Challenge 25 Effectiveness report (2013) that ‘young people drinking in the last week’ had fallen 8% since Challenge 25’s introduction and that campaign visibility was high with 67% of the public, including 86% of 18-24 year olds, are aware of Challenge 25 and alcohol conumption in 16-24 years olds had fallen since the introduction of the previous Challenge 21 campaign in 2005.

Regular checks are made by the council to ensure that only competent individuals hold such a license to sell alcohol.

Part of the checking process involves targeted visits through an intelligence led risk assessment, and ‘test purchases’ by children attempting to purchase alcohol (under their direct supervision of council officers).   Test purchase scenarios are resource intensive





Number of test purchases





Number of test purchases where licensee in breach





We work closely with the police and strong actions result with any not adhering to the requirements facing penalties, including a review of the licence, potentially removing the right to trade, new conditions attached to a licence and Fixed Penalty Notices. We additionally participate in a Pub Watch scheme where local publicans participate in an exchange of information and best practice.

Public safety and prevention of public nuisance

Licensees and publicans in Bracknell Forest are well organised and have taken steps to reduce anti-social behaviour in their premises.

  • B.A.C.S. Pub And Drug Watch Pubwatch Scheme – A voluntary partnership for publicans and licensees in Bracknell, Ascot, Crowthorne and Sandhurst working with the Police, Bracknelll Forest Licensing, Trading Standards and the Drug and Alcohol Team, sharing information and intelligence to identify issues and offenders so that a responsive and preventative approach can be taken to ensure licensed premised remain safe and inviting places for all residents
  • Berkshire Pub Group – A closed Facebook group called the ‘Berkshire Pub Group‘ was started by a Bracknell licensee in 2015 for managers, landlords and affiliated parties, with the aim of sharing information on musicians, equipment, contractors, suppliers, pool tournaments, darts leagues, licensing, etc. and to help licensees ensure they are operating within the law.

Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAP’s) promote a more holistic approach to the reduction of alcohol to under 18’s and operate successfully in other areas of the country.  The setting up of a CAP in Bracknell Forest is currently under consideration (as at July 2016).

The law allows for the council to apply a range of different enforcement measures to reduce negative social outcomes:

  • Early morning alcohol restriction orders (EMRO) – the restriction of sales of alcohol in the whole or a part of the local authority area for any specified period between 12am and 6am.  The evidence does not support implementation in Bracknell Forest at this stage.
  • Late-night levy – where late-opening alcohol retailers pay towards the costs of policing the late-night economy. The evidence does not support implementation in Bracknell Forest at this stage.


In 2014-15 there were 17,196 hospital admissions for acute alcohol intoxication leading to mental or behavioural disorder compared to 17,943 in 2013-14. In both years, the vast majority were people aged 18+ (90%) but 10% were for young people aged 17 or under.

According to the Government website, the cost of alcohol misuse in society is estimated to be around £21 billion each year and this includes £11 billion in alcohol-related crime in England and Wales.

Want to know more?

2010 to 2015 government policy: alcohol sales (Home Office, 2015) – sets out the legislative and policy framework for alcohol sales in England.

Additional Guidance for Health Authorities Under the Licensing Act 2003 (Home Office, 2014 updated 2015) – Brief guidance outlining the statutory role of health authorities in their role as responsible authorities, in particular provides clarity based on good practice of how licensing and public health teams might work together.

Alcohol Strategy 2012 (Home Office, 2012) – This outlines the Government’s approach to tackle the ‘binge drinking’ culture, cut alcohol-fuelled violence and disorder, and reduce the number of people drinking to damaging levels.

Licensing Act 2003 – covers the issuing of licenses which permit the sale of alcohol and the enforcing of license conditions.

Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the Licensing Act 2003 (House of Lords Select Committee, 2016) – a review of evidence on changes in since the enactment of the Licensing Act.  Covers an assessment and interpretation of the application of the act by license and premises, trends in alcohol consumption, alcohol availability, crime, disorder and other harms and enforcement measures.

Public health and alcohol licensing in England (LGA, 2013) – Sets out the public responsibilities of local authorities in relations to alcohol licensing.

This page was created on 27 February 2014 and updated on 4 July 2016.  Next review date July 2017.

Cite this page:

Bracknell Forest Council. (2016). JSNA – Alcohol licensing. Available at: (Accessed: dd Mmmm yyyy)

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