Under the Licensing Act 2003, premises licence holders and designated premises supervisors have a legal responsibility to make sure that children and young people are protected from harm at their premises. The guidance issued under Section 182 of the Licensing Act requires that children must be protected from “physical, psychological and moral harm”, so premises allowing persons under the age of 18 are expected to have systems in place to safeguard children and young people.
One of the risks at licensed premises is that of sexual exploitation. To minimize the risk to children and young people, premises need to have preventive systems in place. There may also be a financial and reputational risk, particularly if legal action is taken against a premise, which can result in the suspension or revocation of the licence. So it is important that the risk of child sexual exploitation is managed at your premise ~ to protect children and young people from harm ~ and to protect your business.
An extract from the government definition of child sexual exploitation says: “Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive ‘something (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities.”
Licensed premises are places where people usually go to socialise, have a drink, relax and enjoy themselves and, as such, they provide an ideal environment for the grooming and sexual exploitation of children and young people. As part of the grooming process adults may meet young people or take them to licensed premises, to develop a relationship of trust and make them feel special by giving them ‘treats’ such as meals or alcohol, or by involving them in adult parties. A premise could be misused for this kind of activity by the people who are socialising or working there. For example:
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:
If you are concerned about child exploitation at your premises call one of the numbers below.
You are not alone, there are specially trained professionals that help support you and your family.