Identifying opportunities for engaging the ‘community’ in local alcohol decision-making: A literature review and synthesis

Michael McGrath, Joanna Reynolds*, Maria Smolar, Sue Hare, Margaret Ogden, Jennie Popay, Karen Lock, Penny Cook, Matt Egan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: Engaging communities in actions to reduce alcohol harms has been identified as an international priority. While there exist recommendations for community engagement within alcohol licensing legislation, there is limited understanding of how to involve communities in local decision-making to reduce harms from the alcohol environment. Methods: A scoping literature review was conducted on community engagement in local government decision-making with relevance to the alcohol environment. Academic and grey literature databases were searched between April and June 2018 to identify examples of community engagement in local government in the UK, published since 2000. Texts were excluded if they did not describe in detail the mechanisms or rationale for community engagement. Information was extracted and synthesised through a narrative approach. Results: 3030 texts were identified through the searches, and 30 texts were included in the final review. Only one text described community engagement in alcohol decision-making (licensing); other local government sectors included planning, regeneration and community safety. Four rationales for community engagement emerged: statutory consultation processes; non-statutory engagement; as part of broader participatory initiatives; and community-led activism. While not all texts reported outcomes, a few described direct community influence on decisions. Broader outcomes included improved relationships between community groups and local government. However, lack of influence over decisions was also common, with multiple barriers to effective engagement identified. Conclusion: The lack of published examples of community engagement in local alcohol decision-making relevant to the UK suggests little priority has been placed on sharing learning about supporting engagement in this area. Taking a place-shaping perspective, useful lessons can be drawn from other areas of local government with relevance for the alcohol environment. Barriers to engagement must be considered carefully, particularly around how communities are defined, and how different interests toward the local alcohol environment are represented, or not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-204
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Volume74
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) (no grant number). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) (no grant number). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Alcohol policy
  • Community engagement
  • Local government
  • Scoping review

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