Children and the Licensing Act

The protection of children from harm is one of the four licensing objectives that underpin the Licensing Act 2003 ("the Act"). It remains a significant Government priority.

The new licensing regime has been designed, in part, to close the loopholes and inadequacies of current law in relation to children, while allowing under 18s to experience the atmosphere of licensed premises in a family friendly, safe environment. The Act requires that all licensed premises and clubs set out in the operating schedule the steps proposed to be taken to promote the licensing objectives, including the protection of children from harm.

The new regime will allow licensing authorities 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 protect children from harm. Where there is no risk of harm, there need be no conditions applied. Where there is a genuine danger, for example through underage drinking, drug dealing or entertainment of an adult nature, following representations, steps can be taken. The licensing authorities, having first considered any relevant representations from the responsible authorities or interested parties, will be able to impose necessary conditions on the licence or certificate to provide the fullest possible safeguards for the protection of children.

In addition to the licensing objective on children, the laws relating to the sale to and consumption of alcohol by minors have been strengthened and updated to offer increased protection for children.

Some frequently asked questions about children and the Licensing Act 2003(pdf, 76KB).

Updated: 11 August 2009