Department for Culture, Media and Sport
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Revised guidance to the Licensing Act 2003

Revised guidance to the Licensing Act 2003

DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT News Release (078/07) issued by The Government News Network on 28 June 2007

Revised guidance for local authorities on the licensing laws was published today by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). The revised and updated Guidance offers advice and clarification for councils on a wide range of issues to help them deliver the Licensing Act 2003 effectively.

The full revision of the Guidance published today follows extensive consultation with a wide range of key stakeholders, including local authorities, the police, the licensed trade and residents groups and a full public consultation earlier this year.

Amendments include:

* further clarification on the responsibility of licensees to take reasonable steps to prevent crime and disorder and public nuisance immediately outside their premises (where this is within their control) and local authority powers to impose relevant licence conditions where necessary;

* revised text on licensing hours to reflect the fact that we are no longer moving from a position of fixed, early closing times as was the case when the Act first came into force;

* a recommendation that personal licence holders provide written authorisation for the sale of alcohol;

* an expanded section on incidental music, to help local authorities determine whether music falls into this category and is therefore not licensable; and

* further guidance on when an application to vary a licence is required.

Licensing Minister Shaun Woodward said:

"The Licensing Act has been in force now for over a year and, although it is still early days, there are encouraging signs that it is delivering real improvements on the ground. Local people now have a bigger say in licensing decisions and councils, the police and the other enforcement authorities are working in partnership to develop safe and vibrant night-time economies.

"The Guidance is an important tool for councils working to deliver the benefits of the Act and the generally positive response to our public consultation shows that we have got it more or less right.

"However, there is always room for improvement and, with the benefit of experience, local councils, the licensed trade, the police and residents groups have asked us to provide further clarification in some areas. We have also taken this opportunity to change the format to make the Guidance more concise and easier to use.

"I am confident that the revised Guidance will continue to provide an essential source of advice and best practice for local councils in delivering the licensing objectives - the prevention of crime, disorder and public nuisance, the protection of children from harm and public safety."

The original Guidance was published in July 2004 and parts of it were updated in June 2006, following an initial review.

Notes to editors

1. The revised guidance to the Licensing Act 2003 is available at

2. The review of the Guidance to the Act was launched on 1 December 2005 as a two stage process: an initial phase, the results of which were published in June 2006. The second stage of the review began in May 2006 with the formation of a stakeholder sub group of the Licensing Advisory Group to assist us in a full revision of the Guidance. These recommendations formed the basis for the proposals outlined in the Consultation Document issued on 16 January 2007. The twelve week public consultation on the revised statutory Guidance ended on 11 April 2007. We received 162 responses, including 68 from local authorities.

3. Licensing authorities must 'have regard' to the Guidance, but it does not in any way replace the statutory provisions of the Licensing Act or add to its scope and the interpretation of the Act is a matter for the courts.

4. The Licensing Act 2003 received Royal Assent on 10th July 2003. Its reforms came into effect in full on 24 November 2005. The four statutory objectives of the act are:

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

Further details of the act can be found at:

Public Enquiries: 020 7211 6200

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