Binge drinking and alcohol related crime across the UK has fallen significantly in recent years. Alcohol-related violent crime has fallen by almost half (47%) in Britain since 2009/10 (ONS, September 2020 / Scottish Government, March 2021). Whilst binge drinking* among UK drinkers has fallen by over a quarter (29%) in the last decade (Health Survey for England, December 2022 / Scottish Health Survey, January 2021; *drinking over 6-8 units in a single session).

This is partly due to a growing number of moderate drinkers and consumers wishing to pursue healthier lifestyles, which is  to be celebrated. However, the industry has also played a key role, by funding and leading a series of initiatives devoted to helping ensure our night-time spaces are safer and that alcohol is enjoyed responsibly. In this blog, we take a deep dive look at some of these initiatives.

Best Bar None

First piloted in Manchester in 2003, Best Bar None is an awards and accreditation scheme supported by the Home Office and drinks industry. It was developed to recognise and reward responsible premises which demonstrate progress in the four areas covered the UK Licensing Act:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder.
  • Public safety.
  • Prevention of public nuisance.
  • And protection of children from harm.

The overall percentage of participating venues entering the scheme and receiving full accreditation is over 80%. Schemes have been set up in towns and cities across the UK and has proven its success by:

  • Reducing the risk of alcohol-related harm, disorder and crime.
  • Established benchmark of good practice.
  • Recognising and rewarding responsible operators.
  • Creating consistency of standards throughout the UK.
  • Creating a positive vehicle for all sectors of the night-time economy to work together in partnership.


A recent survey by Stonegate Pub Company (85% of their around 5,000 pubs are involved with a regional BBN scheme or other community safety programme) found that:

The programme continues to innovate and in 2019 BBN launched a pilot with Manchester Airport Group (MAG), encompassing Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports. MAG Group were looking to further improve standards of airside alcohol retailing  across the UK’s biggest airport group and improve the travel experience for its 60 million passengers.

Learn more about the work Best Bar None does here. For Best Bar None Scotland, click here.


National Pubwatch (NPW) is an entirely voluntary organisation set up with the aim to achieve a safe, secure and responsibly led social drinking environment in all licensed premises throughout the UK, helping to reduce alcohol-related crime.

The scheme was evaluated in 2012 by Leeds Metropolitan University. They conducted  a UK wide study of Pubwatch to see what members and other stakeholders thought about the scheme’s effectiveness. The evaluation showed that the vast majority of responding local authorities (76%), police (70%) and licensees (70%) believed that Pubwatch contributed to a safer drinking environment in the areas in which they operate. Councils (71%) and police (67%) also pointed to a decrease in anti-social behaviour in the wider localities as a result of effective schemes and closer partnership working.

To learn more about the valuable work National Pubwatch does, visit its website here.

Purple Flag

Purple Flag is a UK, Ireland and now international accreditation process run by the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) to raise standards and broaden the appeal of town and city centres in the evening and night-time. Similar to the Blue Flag scheme for beaches, areas awarded with a Purple Flag are recognised for providing a diverse and vibrant mix of dining, entertainment and culture while promoting the safety and well-being of visitors and local residents. This means not just for pubs and clubs but for a wide range of activities including arts and culture, leisure, eating out and events.

The accreditation process takes towns and cities through a comprehensive set of standards, management processes and good practice examples all designed to help transform the evening and night-time economy and provide a research, training and development programme. Those already accredited have reported positive feedback from local businesses.

Learn more about Purple Flag and the ATCM on its website here.

Local Alcohol Partnerships Group

Even though Best Bar None, Pubwatch and Purple Flag are separate organisations, they are all devoted to a common purpose – reducing alcohol harm and making our communities safer. Collaboration is key to helping achieve this. This is why all three are members of the Local Alcohol Partnerships Group (LAPG), alongside other representatives from local partnership schemes, industry partners, regulators, government departments and alcohol advisory/concern groups. Established in 2012 by the Portman Group who ran the scheme for six years before handing over to the Institute of Licensing, LAPG objectives include:

  • Providing the basis for closer collaboration between the industry local partnership schemes, trade bodies and other stakeholders.
  • Providing a source of practical and operational expertise in licensed economy issues for operators and regulators.
  • Implementing and supporting schemes as appropriate.
  • Facilitating the sharing of good practice through attendance at events, meetings and roundtable discussions as appropriate.
  • And sharing good practice on evaluation and gather data that demonstrates the benefit of the schemes at local level.

Through the sharing of best practice, they have been able to enhance each scheme and aim to have a multiplier effect where they work in partnership in core areas of the country. It is through LAPG that the Portman Group worked with London City Hall to sign the Women’s Night Safety Charter, a voluntary initiative to improve the safety for all women in the night-time economy, that feeds into LAPG schemes.

You can learn more about LAPG here.

The Future

Since the pandemic, these schemes have had to look at how they support the night-time economy to bring people back to a safe entertainment environment. Working closely with the police they have been able to help reestablish safe practices and adapt to a new environment. Whether this is supporting the Stamping Out Spiking campaign or expanding the use of Ask for Angela (a scheme to help women who are concerned about their safety), collateral, we can anticipate that the multitude of on the ground bodies looking to reduce harms in the night-time economy will continue to adapt as society changes.