Licensing and safeguarding children

Information, guidance and advice for licensed premises and gambling establishments on how to safeguard and protect children and young people whilst on their premises.

What are the requirements for safeguarding children under the Licensing Act?

The Licensing Act 2003 brought about a change in thinking about children’s access to licensed premises and now it is normal for children to be allowed in to pubs, clubs and other licensed premises.

Under the Act a number of ‘responsible authorities’ have been created, each one should be notified of any new license applications or any variations to existing licenses.

The 'responsible authorities' include: police, fire authority, planning authority and the East Riding of Yorkshire Children’s Services is the ‘Responsible Authority’ in respect of the protection of children from harm.

What is the role of the ‘responsible authority’ in respect of protection of children from harm?

The licensing assistant is responsible for overseeing the license applications and ensuring sufficient measures are in place to promote the licensing objective of ‘protection of children from harm’.

The licensing assistant will also aim to work with licensees where further steps could be taken to promote this licensing objective and protect children from harm on licensed premises. In particular, premises where:

  • there is a belief alcohol could be sold to customers under the age of 18 years
  • entertainment is provided which is of an adult and/or sexual nature
  • any member of staff has previously been convicted of serving alcohol to a minor or is on the sex offender’s register
  • specific activities for children take place
  • there is a strong element of gambling taking place.

What risks can there be on licensed premises for children and young people?

The risks will vary from premises to premises depending on the type of licensing activity and the age of the children.

Young children may be at risk if they are not properly supervised or are exposed to adults who have become intoxicated. Young children can be dangerously intoxicated by quite small quantities of alcohol, so care needs to be taken to clear used glasses to protect them from this risk.

Young teenagers may attempt to buy and consume alcohol and then become vulnerable because their judgement is impaired, this could put them in danger from getting involved in fights, from drink driving or from sexual predators.

All children are at risk of adults who are viewed as a danger to them. Care must be taken when staff are appointed to ensure that such individuals are not placed in an environment where they can exploit their position.

Adult entertainment is not suitable for children. At premises where such entertainment is allowed arrangements must be enforced to ensure that children are not exposed to any inappropriate acts or material.

What can licensees put in place to reduce risks to children and young people?

  • they can use clear signs so that people are aware when and where children are welcome in the premises
  • they can display signs and adhere to laws relating to alcohol and children
  • licensees should have a clear policy for dealing with children on their premises, for example, having a policy which outlines age restrictions, thresholds, supervision, expectations of adults, timings, etc.
  • age-identification procedures used – national, local, premises schemes
  • how expectations on adults are enforced, for example instructions to staff
  • vetting procedures for staff, to ensure that no unsuitable adults are employed
  • staff should be easily identifiable (uniform or badge) and aware of safeguarding issues
  • policy on clearing glasses to minimise opportunities for children to access left-over alcohol
  • minimise the risk of passive smoking with clearly defined ‘smoking’ areas to which children have no access
  • use CCTV to monitor the premises/event including toilet and play areas.

What are the risks of child sexual exploitation (CSE) at licensed premises?

The risks vary depending on the style and character of the business but premises can be involved in the following ways:

  • If an adult venue (night clubs or sex entertainment venue) is frequented by underage customers this can attract perpetrators; or if a premises (or event) hosts under 18 events or mixed age activities
  • Where underage drinking takes place, children and young people are vulnerable as their judgement is impaired
  • There is a risk of CSE at premises where goods or services can be offered in exchange for sexual favours (such as free food, transport, drinks, cigarettes, or free access to a venue). This can happen if a perpetrator is employed there (or works voluntarily) and has regular or private contact with children
  • Children and young people are vulnerable in areas of premises that are not monitored (such as toilets, beer gardens)
  • Risk may present if information technology is in use at a premises (internet, mobile phones/cameras/video recorders)
  • Premises providing facilities for private parties, private dancing/entertainment booths or overnight accommodation may be vulnerable to child sexual exploitation.

How can licensees manage the risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE) at licensed premises?

Under the Licensing Act 2003, the ‘due diligence’ defence can be used to protect your business, if you can demonstrate that all reasonable steps have been taken to manage risk. Here are some suggested safeguarding measures to help evidence ‘due diligence’ and keep children safe:

  • Undertake a written children and young people’s risk assessment and use it to inform your operating policy and staff training
  • Staff should be trained to recognise indicators of child sexual exploitation and know how to report concerns
  • Staff should be trained to operate an age verification scheme, know what types of identification are acceptable and to recognise signs of proxy purchase of alcohol
  • Staff training records should be maintained
  • Activity at the premises should be monitored (for example using CCTV or by regular patrols. Patrol records should be maintained)
  • Suspicious activity should be reported to the police (including details such as vehicle registration numbers, description of individuals) and should be recorded in your incident log
  • If you, or your staff, are in a situation involving the supervision of a vulnerable young person at your premise, it is important to follow a consistent and auditable protocol – for further advice about this contact Early Help and Safeguarding Hub on (01482) 395500
  • If you have a delivery service (for example hot food) enforce a code of conduct to promote good safeguarding when deliveries are made to unaccompanied children.

Who can licensees contact if they are concerned about child sexual exploitation (CSE)?

'If anything in the child sexual exploitation section of this page gives you concern about a young person, you must pass this information onto and can gain advice from the Safeguarding and Partnership Hub (SaPH):

Day time

The SaPH day time team is available Monday to Thursday 9am-5pm, Friday 9am - 4:30pm and can be contacted on:

Tel: (01482) 395500



The Children's Emergency Duty Team staff will respond to concerns/enquires received outside the above daytime hours:

Tel: (01377) 241273


You may get referred to the child sexual exploitation response team that works with young people to improve their confidence and help them break free from the cycle of abuse.

Is the child in immediate danger?

Phone the Police on 999.

The ERSCP website also provides further information about child sexual exploitation:

East Riding Safeguarding Children's Partnership (ERSCP) (external council website)

What is the process in respect of protection of children from harm?

  • All applications will come to the licensing assistant who is based within the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Children Family and Adult Service Directorate.
  • Applications will be vetted to ensure that they have considered, and put in place as necessary, measures to ensure that the licensing objective of protection of children from harm is met
  • Where insufficient information is provided the applicant will be contacted
  • Where cases need further discussion this will be done through the East Riding Licensing Authority meetings
  • Applications will be logged on a database on receipt and outcomes noted as appropriate.

What are the requirements for safeguarding children under the Gambling Act 2005?

In September 2007 the Gambling Act 2005 came into force and replaced numerous pieces of legislation governing gambling activities. The Gambling Act 2005 promotes safer practice at premises where gambling activities take place.

Under the legislation, licensees and their operators have a legal responsibility to ‘protect children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling’.

The Gambling Act 2005 (external website)

The Children and Young People’s Support and Safeguarding Services, as a responsible authority, have a statutory responsibility to ensure that licence holders operate in a way that safeguards children and young people and vulnerable adults.

The risks to children will vary, depending upon the type of gambling activities taking place at the premises. Children may be at risk of being:

  • exposed to information or advertisements encouraging them to gamble
  • allowed or invited to gamble or bet in a commercial setting
  • financially exploited
  • allowed to purchase and consume alcohol.

There are a number of measures that gambling establishments can put in place to manage the risks to children:

  • Challenge 21/25 scheme operated by all door and bar staff and only recognised proof of age accepted (for example, photo driving licence, passport or a PASS Card)
  • All points of entry monitored by security staff or a CCTV
  • Signage prominently displayed at all points of entry regarding the prohibition of under 18’s
  • Signage displayed on machines highlighting age restrictions
  • Signage prominently displayed in bar areas regarding the law and the sale of alcohol
  • Operate a membership scheme
  • All staff trained to be vigilant and respond (as outlined in the premises operating policy) if a child gains illegal access to the premises.

For gambling establishments that offer a range of gambling activities (regional casino, licensed entertainment centre, bingo premises, gaming machines in category C or above) they must operate systems to ensure that under 18’s are prevented from accessing areas where adult activities (betting or high stakes gambling) take place or where adult gaming machines are located.

For such premises they may also need to operate the following systems:

  • Designate family-friendly areas using physical barriers or cordons to segregate these from restricted areas
  • Points of access and/or egress to be located for easy supervision by staff and regularly monitored
  • Signage to display to indicate access rules
  • Signage to remind parents and/or adults of their responsibilities
  • Use bandit screens
  • Use the Challenge 21/25 scheme
  • Assign at least one member of staff as a ‘Children’s Safeguarding Champion’.

What are the requirement for safeguarding vulnerable adults under the Gambling Act 2005?

The Gambling Commission give a high priority to the social responsibilities operators have to protect vulnerable adults from harm associated with gambling and policies must be in place to support the protection of vulnerable adults.

Adults using drugs or alcohol

Adults may be vulnerable if they are intoxicated from using illicit drugs or alcohol, or if they are taking certain types of prescribed medication, as this may impair their judgement or prevent them making informed, balanced decisions about gambling.

Adults with mental health issues

If an adult has mental health issues, mental impairment or problems with addiction, this may also make them vulnerable as they may have difficulty controlling their activities or behaviour, or prevent them understanding the players guides to games.

Risks to vulnerable adults may include :

  • financial exploitation
  • gambling beyond their financial means
  • problems with addiction
  • causing, or being a victim of dangerous, abusive or threatening behaviour
  • physical, emotional or accidental harm.

How to reduce the risk to vulnerable adults in gambling establishments?

  • Designate a member of staff to lead on problem gambling issues
  • Train staff how to recognise and respond to indicators of concern and how to protect their own safety if customers behave aggressively
  • Make information and advice about gambling responsibly generally and discretely available, and provide contact details about where to get help
  • Offer a self-exclusion or self limit scheme enabling individuals to restrict the amount of time or money they spend
  • Operate a membership scheme that captures contact details for the individual in case of an emergency
  • Allow a cooling-off period for customers signing up to credit arrangements.

What guidance is available regarding the safety of children and young people at events?

Information and guidance is currently under development that will assist event organisers to prioritise the safety of children and young people at the planning and operational stages of events.

If further information is required please contact the licensing assistant.

Who do I contact for further guidance and support?

For further guidance and support please contact:

East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Children Family and Adult Services
Early Help & Advice Team
Room AF56, County Hall
HU17 9BA.

Tel: (01482) 393544


What further information is available?

Use the additional resources below for further help and guidance:

Licensing risk assessment

Guideline for licensees and their staff about safeguarding measures that could be implemented on their premises to ensure children are protected from harm in all instances. A checklist and instructions are included in the risk assessment below:Risk Assessment for Licensees (pdf 175kb)

Licensing Act 2003

How can licensees manage the risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE) at licensed premises?

Gambling Act Guidance 2005

Requirement for safeguarding vulnerable adults under the Gambling Act 2005

Gambling and gaming: the risk to children and young people

Please visit the Gambling and gaming risks page for information about the council's statutory duty to ensure gambling facilities operate responsibly so that children and other vulnerable people are protected from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

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