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5.26 Protection of Children from Harm on Licensed Premises


In August 2015, a slight amendment was made in order to clarify that licensing authorities must also consider the need to protect children from sexual exploitation when undertaking licensing functions.


  1. Statutory Framework
  2. Application Process
  3. Summary of Children's Allowable Access and Alcohol Purchase and Consumption
  4. Conditions Restricting Access by Children
  5. Film Classifications
  6. Complaints/Concerns/Objections

1. Statutory Framework

The Licensing Act 2003 was approved by Parliament in July 2003. The overall aim of the Act is to modernise the legislation governing the sale and supply of alcohol and public entertainment. In carrying out its licensing functions the Licensing Authority will promote the following licensing objectives which are all of equal importance:

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

These four objectives are paramount considerations at all times.

The protection of children from harm is a national licensing objective. Licensing authorities must also consider the need to protect children from sexual exploitation when undertaking licensing functions. The term “children” refers to all babies children and teenagers i.e. from birth until their 18th Birthday. The Act details a number of offences designed to protect children in licensed premises. The Licensing Authority is concerned to ensure that license holders of fixed premises or organisers of temporary events, create safe environments for children (in terms of their physical, moral and psychological welfare) who may be on the premises. Children should be unable to access alcohol or drugs and be subject to an appropriate level of care and supervision at all times. The Licensing Authority will work closely with the Police and other agencies to ensure appropriate and efficient enforcement of the law, and promotion of best practice, in these respects.

2. Application Process

Application forms, the councils licensing policy and further information about the Licensing Act 2003 can be obtained from The Licensing Unit.

There are a number of 'Responsible Authorities' which will be required to be notified of new Licence applications and license 'variations' applications. Liverpool Safeguarding Children's Partnership (LSCP) is designated as the Responsible authority for matters relating to the protection of children from harm.

Applications will include an 'Operating Schedule'. In this, applicants will set out the steps proposed to promote the licensing objectives, including the protection of children from harm. The operating schedule should include a statement of the following matters:

  • Relevant licensing activities;
  • The time during which it is proposed that the relevant licensable activities are to take place;
  • Any other times during which it is proposed that the premises are to be open to the public;
  • Where the applicant wishes the licence to have effect for a limited period, state period;
  • Where the relevant licensable activities include the supply of alcohol, prescribed information in respect of the individual whom the applicant wishes to have specified in the premises license as the premises supervisor;
  • Where the relevant licensable activities include the supply of alcohol, whether the supplies are to be for consumption on the premises or off the premises or both;
  • The steps which is proposed to take to promote the licensing objectives;
  • Such other matters as may be prescribed.

As a responsible authority, the LSCP can make a representation to the Licensing Authority about applications. Responsible authorities have the power to call for a review of an existing license based open one or more of the four licensing objectives.

3. Summary of Children's Allowable Access and Alcohol Purchase and Consumption

Sections 145-153 of the Licensing Act 2003 set out a number of offences which affect the access of children to licenses premises.

The Act prohibits children aged less than 16 years old and unaccompanied by an adult, to access licensed premises:

  • Used primarily or exclusively for consumption of alcohol;
  • And or in any event, between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.

The admission of children to any premises will otherwise normally be left to the discretion of the individual licensee, as the Act does not generally prohibit children from accessing licensed premises. Where children are accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult, additional measure should not normally be necessary. The Licensing Authority supports the view that Children should enjoy access to a range of licensed premises where possible, but cannot impose conditions requiring the admission of children to any premises.

4. Conditions Restricting Access by Children

Children have access to a range of regulated public entertainment venues and may be present as members of a viewing audience or as performers in their own right. The Licensing Authority expects licence holders and those organising temporary public events, to make proper provision for child safety and welfare during such events. Notwithstanding public safety issues, supervisory arrangements must be reflected within operating schedules. Suitable monitoring strategies should also be in place to ensure that supervisory levels are appropriate.

Subject always to the provisions of Liverpool Licensing Policy the Licensing Authority will judge the merits of each separate application before deciding whether or not to impose conditions restricting access by children. The Licensing Authority will refer any application involving children, to the Liverpool Safeguarding Children's Partnership (LSCP) for comment.

Particular scrutiny will occur where, in relation to particular premises or a particular event:

  • There have been convictions of members of the current staff at the premises for serving alcohol to minors, or with a reputation for underage drinking;
  • There is a known association with drug taking or dealing;
  • There is a strong element of gambling (but not, for example, the simple presence of a small number of cash prize gaming machines);
  • Entertainment or services of an adult or sexual nature are commonly provided. It is not possible to give an exhaustive list of what amounts to entertainment or services of an adult or sexual nature. Common sense will be applied. However, such entertainment or services, for example, would generally include topless bar staff, striptease, lap, table or pole-dancing, performances involving feigned violence or horrific incidents, feigned or actual sexual acts or fetishism, or entertainment involving strong and offensive language;
  • The supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises is the exclusive or primary purpose.

In premises where alcohol is sold or supplied, the Licensing Authority would recommend that premises licence holders will include recognised "Proof of Age” schemes within the context of their Operating Schedules. Potential underage drinkers should be confronted by clear and visible signs on the premises that underage drinking is not condoned, constitutes an offence in law and that they may well be required to produce proof of their age to a member of staff. Organisers of temporary events should apply similar safeguards in their undertakings.

The Licensing Authority endorses the work of the Portman Group on ensuring that drinks are packaged and promoted in a socially responsible manner to those who can legally purchase alcohol, and to help prevent the targeting of minors in marketing promotions. The Licensing Authority therefore commends to those selling and providing alcohol, the Portman Group Standards of Proficiency on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic drinks.

Venue operators seeking premises licences and club premises certificates can volunteer prohibition and restrictions in their operating schedules because their own risk assessments have determined that the presence of children is undesirable or inappropriate. These will become conditions attached to the licence or certificate where no relevant representations are received by the Licensing Authority. The Licensing Authority will attach appropriate conditions where these appear necessary to protect children from moral, psychological or physical harm. The Licensing Authority will consider any of the following options where restricted child access is deemed appropriate:

  • Limitations on the hours when children may be present;
  • Limitations on the exclusion of the presence of children under certain ages when particular specified activities are taking place;
  • Limitations on the parts of premises to which children might be given access;
  • Age limitations (below 18);
  • Requirements for accompanying adults (including for example, a combination of requirements which provide that children under a particular age must be accompanied by an adult)
  • Full exclusion of those people under 18 from the premises when any licensable activities are taking place.

5. Film Classifications

In order to prevent children from seeing films incompatible with their age, cinema licence holders will be expected to impose and enforce viewing restrictions in accordance with the recommendations of the British Board of Film Classification. Subject always to the provisions of Paragraph 6.3 of this policy, the Licensing Authority will impose such conditions where it considers this appropriate.

The Licensing Authority has not adopted its own system of classification and therefore abides by the recommendations of the British Board of Film Classification. A mandatory condition attached to all premises licences and club premises certificates authorising the exhibition of films requires that all films should have been classified by a body designated under Section 4 of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (the British Board of Film Classification is the only body designated as such) or by the Licensing Authority itself.

6. Complaints/Concerns/Objections

The Safeguarding and Reviewing Unit (on behalf of the Liverpool Safeguarding Children Partnership) will investigate relevant complaints regarding the protection of children from harm.

It may be decided that no action is necessary depending on the circumstances.

If action is deemed necessary the Safeguarding Licensing officer will:

  • Arrange a meeting to address and clarify the issue of concern with the Designated premises Supervisor. The Safeguarding Licensing officer maintains close contact with the police and trading standards officers and will invite officer to attend the meeting if appropriate;
  • The meeting will consider any issues that could affect licensing. It may be decided a plan of action to manage the situation including a monitoring procedure;
  • If an action plan cannot be agreed or if it does not resolve issues a review of the license will be requested;
  • The outcome of the meeting will be shared with Police or /and Trading Standard officers if appropriate;
  • If a review of the license is required a request will be made to the licensing Unit the representation must be relevant to the promotion of the license objective. Representations must be given in writing and may be amplified at the subsequent hearing;
  • A report is submitted to the Chair of Liverpool Safeguarding Partnership and the Assistant Executive Director for Children's Services regularly.