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Licensed Premises

The Licensing Act 2003 modernised the legislation governing the sale and supply of alcohol and public entertainment licensing so that:

  • Various existing pieces of legislation were consolidated;
  • Licensing decisions could be made according to local considerations;
  • Licensing hours could be de-regulated.

The Act removed liquor licensing powers form the magistrates’ courts and created a ‘Licensing Authority’ in each local authority in England and Wales responsible for processing applications covering the sale and supply of alcohol, as well as public entertainment. Historical restrictions on the hours when alcohol could be sold were also removed so that licence applicants can request their own, independently determined hours of operation.

There are 4 ‘licensing objectives’ contained within the Act:

  • Prevention of crime and disorder;
  • Public safety;
  • Protection of children from harm;
  • Prevention of public nuisance.

The Act allows the Licensing Authority to attach conditions relating to children’s access to reflect the individual nature of each establishment, if relevant representations are made and this is necessary to do so in order to protect children from harm. Where there is no risk of harm, there need be no conditions applied.

A number of specified ‘responsible authorities’ must be notified of all licence variations and new applications and include:

  • Police;
  • Fire and Rescue; and
  • A body which represents those who, in relation to any such area, are responsible for or interested in, matters relating to the protection of children from harm, and is recognised by the licensing authority for that area for the purposes of this section as being competent to advise it on such matters. The Local Safeguarding Children Partnership or a named individual e.g. a Safeguarding Manager can be what is termed a ‘Responsible Authority’ and can make representations to the Licensing Authority about a ‘variation’ or new licence application, where applicants fail to consider the protection of children. The Local Safeguarding Children Partnership /named individual can request that the protection of children be incorporated by way of condition(s) on the relevant premises licence or club premises certificate.

Responsible Authorities also have the power to call for a review of an existing licence, based upon 1 or more of the above 4 licensing objectives.

If a Licensing Authority has any particular concerns about an individual license in respect of a child protection matter this should be specifically drawn to the attention of the Responsible Authority in Children’s Services. Children’s Services staff have a responsibility to share (via their nominated Responsible Authority) any child protection concerns they have about any licensed premises, with the relevant Licensing Authority:

  • Premises having a reputation for under-age drinking;
  • Premises with a known association with drug taking or dealing;
  • Children are present and there is strong element of gambling on the premises;
  • Young people being present when entertainment of a sexual or other adult nature is provided on the premises;
  • Premises where children are regularly present when they would normally be expected to be in full-time education;
  • Excessive noise at night outside licensed premises in residential areas;
  • Children living in licensed premises but being inadequately supervised;
  • Known concerns of a child protection nature about an applicant for a personal license, or for staff working in licensed premises where children may be present.

Each ‘Responsible Authority’ should define the issues to be considered in formulating its response to a licence application:

  • Direct or indirect sale of alcohol and other restricted goods to under 18’s;
  • Use of illicit drugs on licensed premises;
  • Impact on local children of noise associated with premises;
  • Protection of children from gambling or unsuitable films;
  • Protection from the impact of adults’ smoking;
  • Disclosure and Barring Service checks on those who have access to children;
  • Appropriate policies and procedures that recognise the need to protect children.

Under the legislation of the Licensing Act 2003 children will normally have access to licensed premises, unless there is a clear need for them to be excluded. One of the key objectives of the Licensing Act 2003 is ‘The Protection of Children from Harm’.

Local Safeguarding Children Partnerships are ‘Responsible Authorities’ under the Licensing Act 2003. As part of our responsibility for safeguarding children we will check the details you provide against the information we hold. We welcome the opportunity to give advice about safeguarding children.

In order to make the necessary safeguarding arrangements you will need to consider what risks could arise to children at your premises/event and ensure that proper and adequate safeguarding measures are in place. It is important that other staff are aware of these measures and prepared to take necessary action.

The potential risk to children and young people will vary, depending on the type of licensable activity taking place. Here is a list giving examples of potential risks and control measures to be considered by licensees in order to safeguard children (please note: this list is not exhaustive). These key points should help you to understand in what ways you can produce an operating schedule to safeguard children. It is important to include any staff or performers under the age of 18 in the safeguarding measures you use.

Caption: Potential risk factor

Potential risk factor within the licensees environment/activity

Control measures to be taken

Staffing issues

Inappropriate staff working with or coming into contact with children

Use safe recruitment practices: ensure that you verify the identity of job applicants; always request and follow up references in writing (and if possible confirm written references with the referee by telephone); always obtain a Disclosure and Barring Service check and clearance prior to appointment.

Staff lacking awareness of safeguarding issues

Ensure that staff are aware of the control measures stated in the Operating Schedule, that they are aware of their responsibilities and able to carry them out.

Identify a member of staff as the designated lead person on safeguarding issues (this is particularly useful in businesses that have a high turnover of employees) – this person should have a basic awareness of child protection issues and local arrangements for safeguarding children; and would advise other staff who have concerns. This person would also ensure that safeguarding measures are implemented and monitored and, if necessary, improved. This person could also be responsible for training other staff about safeguarding children (e.g. As a standard part of the induction programme for new staff).

Ensure that staff are vigilant and able to take appropriate action if they become aware of a potential risk, e.g. If children are observed in the care or presence of adults who are drunk and/or behaving inappropriately.

Staff and members of the public unable to readily identify appropriate staff when safeguarding concerns arise

Provide staff with uniforms or badges so that they are easily identifiable as staff who can be approached by children, or parents/carers for assistance. These staff should be identifiable as the appropriate person to take necessary action and who can be expected to reliably observe, monitor and ensure that children are not exposed to risk.

Staff too busy to monitor children’s activities

Ensure adequate staffing levels during activities where staff are directly responsible for the supervision of children’s activities. It is good practice to have a minimum staff/child ratio of 1 to 3 where the children are under the age of 2 years; of 1 to 4 where the children are aged 2 to 3 years; and 1 to 8 where the children are aged between 3 and 7 years. It is advisable to have at least 2 staff available to supervise, one of which should be trained in first aid.

Ensure that staff prioritise safeguarding measures and are committed to their enforcement.

Children who are out of sight or care of their parent/carer coming into contact with strangers or being exposed to undesirable influences, or being removed or removing themselves from the appropriate area of the premises/event.

Ensure that children are confined to the environs of the premises/event.

Staff should be vigilant to prevent children consuming unfinished alcohol left on tables etc.

Restrict access to gaming machines or to the Internet to over 18’s or use control software to prevent children’s access to adult websites.

Ensure that areas where children are not allowed are clearly marked and that signs indicating this are displayed.

Specify areas, activities and times/sessions that are family friendly and welcome children.

Operate requirements that require that children under a certain age must be accompanied by an adult.

Children exposed to unsuitable entertainment

Do not allow children on the entire premises; or restrict the times or areas where unsuitable entertainment / activity may be taking place (an example of unsuitable entertainment/ activity is gambling, sexual entertainment such as lap dancing, striptease, or where certain types of live music suggest exposure to drugs).

Children exposed to unsuitable viewing material

Ensure that television, video/dvd etc. display screens are suitably separate from children’s areas; e.g. they could be screened off so that children cannot see, or sound-proofed so they are unable to hear unsuitable material. At cinemas or other places where films are presented, the classification restrictions relating to the film as set out by the British Board of Film Classification should be clearly and prominently displayed and admission rules strictly enforced.

Children purchasing alcohol or other people buying it for them

Display signs in plain language in a prominent place about the laws relating to children and alcohol.

Ensure that customers are aware of the laws relating to selling and purchasing alcohol for or on behalf of children.

Ensure staff are aware of legislation and that they are proactively observant of the law and that staff receive recognised server training (e.g. ESP/Diageo training schemes).

Familiarise staff with the Portman Group’s leaflet ‘Say No to Underage Drinkers’ and the Group’s general Code of Practice, and implement this.

Monitor the vicinity around the premises/event to ensure that children are not pressuring other customers to purchase alcohol for or on behalf of them. You could use CCTV to assist with this.

Children under the age of 16 gaining admission to licensed premises that are primarily or exclusively a drinking establishment or are intended generally for adult use

Ensure that staff are trained and vigilant and that they screen rigorously for under age admission; staff to request proof of age and accept only legitimate proof (e.g. Passport, photo driving license, photo student card or identification approved by the PASS Accreditation System).

Premises prone to violent incidents or that attract undesirable adults or have problems with adults ‘grooming’ children

Use CCTV to monitor activity at the premises.

Train door staff and security staff to be observant and aware and ensure that they take necessary action to remove risks to children.

Safeguarding children who are taking part in performances/events

An emergency incident occurs during a performance /event

Ensure that responsible adults and children are made aware of evacuation procedures prior to the performance/event.

Ensure that a register of children participating in the performance/event is kept so that all children are accountable.

In cases where children are mobile between locations /areas of a premises/event ensure that adequate measures are taken to supervise their transition between areas to prevent them wandering off or becoming vulnerable to undesirable influences.

Issues related to children’s health(please also consult Health and Safety codes of practice for guidance)

The performance /event/ entertainment uses special effects

Signage should be prominently displayed warning that special effects are included and if possible state what the special effects are. (Some special effects, such as dry ice, could be a potential risk for a child with asthma; strobe lighting could be a potential risk for a child with epilepsy).

Last Updated: January 8, 2024