A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation investigates the role councils play in tackling alcohol-fuelled disorder.
Drinking places: where people drink and why, says: "There is a lack of robust data about patterns of drinking at a local level which means local authorities lack an evidence base upon which to develop place-specific initiatives".
The authors warn this is a growing issue as councils flex powers over local licensing strategies under the Licensing Act 2003.
The research compared geographical challenges and identified clear differences in thresholds of tolerance and expectations of appropriate behaviour between urban Stoke-on-Trent and rural Eden.
Issues facing councils include balancing their entrepreneurial role with maintaining order by restricting the growth of drinking outlets, passing by-laws to curb street-drinking and creating multi-agency teams to tackle disorder.