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.

Further information is available on the  Licensing and Registrations Information page of the website.  

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/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?

  • Use clear signs so that people are aware when and where children are welcome in the premises
  • Display signs and adhere to laws relating to alcohol and children
  • Have a clear policy for dealing with children on their premises, e.g. age, thresholds, supervision, expectations of adults, timings, etc. 
  • Age-identification procedures used – national, local, premises schemes
  • How expectations on adults are enforced e.g. 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. 

Further information can be found in our guidance leaflet: 

Protecting Children and the Licensing Act 2003 Information for licensees. (pdf 1mb opens in new window)

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/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 Early Help & Safeguarding Hub (EHaSH):

During office hours (Monday to Thursday 9am-5pm, Friday 9am-4.30pm), you can contact EHaSH on:

Telephone: (01482) 395500

Email: childrens.socialcare@eastriding.gcsx.gov.uk

Outside of office hours, please contact the emergency duty team:

Telephone: (01377) 241273

Email: emergency.duty.team@eastriding.gcsx.gov.uk

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 ERSCB website also provides further information about child sexual exploitation:

East Riding safeguarding children's board (ERSCB) (external East Riding 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 Children and Young People’s Support and Safeguarding Services, as a Responsible Authority, has 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:

  • Challenge21/25 scheme operated by all door and bar staff and only recognised proof of age accepted (for example photo driving licence or passport, PASS Card)
  • All points of entry monitored by security staff/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 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/cordons to segregate these from restricted areas
  • Points of access/egress to be located for easy supervision by staff and regularly monitored
  • Signage to display to indicate access rules
  • Signage to remind parents/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 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.  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

To reduce the risk to vulnerable adults gambling establishments could do the following:

  • 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 informatation is required please contact the Licensing Assistant detailed below for guidance and support.

Who do I contact for further guidance and support?

Lee Butler-Johnson
Principal Information Sharing and Assessment Officer
East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Children Family and Adult Services
Early Help & Advice Team
Room AF56, County Hall
HU17 9BA. 

Telephone: (01482) 393544 

Email: irt@eastriding.gov.uk

What further information is available?

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

Risk Assessment (word 51kb opens in new window) 

Licensing Act 2003 Leaflet - Leaflet containing further guidance and information for licensees on safeguarding children and young people whilst on licensed premises

Protecting Children and the Licensing Act 2003 Information for Licensees. (pdf 1mb opens in new window)  

Gambling Act Guidance 2005 - Guidance for gambling establishment owners and their staff about safeguarding measures that could be implemented on their premises to ensure children are protected from harm in all instances where  gambling activities take place

Gambling Act Guidance (word 67kb opens in new window)