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Dorset Council (DC) child performance licensing policy

1.0 The purpose of licensing

Those who involve children in performances (professional or amateur), or paid sport or modelling, have a legal obligation to apply for a child performance or activities licence when one is required. Dorset Council (DC) licensing system is designed to check that suitable and sufficient arrangements have been made to safeguard the child involved.
All forms are needed to exchange information, to clarify the risks to the child and the actions to mitigate them, and to evidence parental consent. 
We cannot eliminate the paperwork and as a local authority we need to have an audit trail for the decisions we make. The most important aspect of the licensing system, however, is the consideration of the child’s well-being and the steps taken to ensure it. The licensing process is a safeguarding measure and should not be viewed only as a paper exercise.

1.1 Who is this document for?

This document is aimed at:
  • all those who work with child performers or with children paid to take part in sport or modelling, or who plan to work with such children
  • chaperones, this means people who supervise children taking part in these activities
  • schools
  • sports, music, dance and drama groups

1.2 Who should apply for a licence?

The responsible person must apply for the licence. Examples of a responsible person would include the producer of a performance or the person responsible for organising an activity or, in either case, the person to whom this responsibility has been delegated. Licence applications should not be signed by a child’s agent. 
The responsible person must submit a licence application form to DC as the child’s local authority, allowing sufficient time for the local authority to consider and process it. DC may refuse to grant the licence if the application is not received at least 21 days before the day on which the first performance/activity is to take place.

1.3 When licenses are required

Child performance legislation (1) sets out when a licence is required. This is supplemented by advice produced by the Department for Education which aims to aid understanding of the legal provisions (2).
If a responsible person remains unclear as to whether a child needs a licence, they should contact DC as your local authority (3). It is for DC to determine, in each case, whether the performance or activity requires a licence. 
It is unlikely that a licence will be required for castings or auditions that are part of a selection process to determine whether a child will be given a part or a role in a performance, or engaged in an activity. This applies even if the child is reading or acting as part of the audition, and it can also apply when the auditions are filmed, unless this is recorded with the intention it be included in a programme to be broadcast on television.
A licence will be required when the audition is planned and directed and otherwise meets the criteria for a performance that needs licensing, but every application will be considered by individual circumstances.

1.4 Body of Persons Approval (BOPA)

The decision about whether to issue a BOPA is entirely at the discretion of DC as the local authority. DC can place conditions on any approval as they see fit for ensuring the wellbeing of children, for example in relation to the hours a child can perform and the breaks they must have, whilst the framework for licensed performances does not automatically apply, DC reserve the right to consider whether it is appropriate to place similar conditions on a BOPA, including but not exclusive to requiring licensed chaperones.
DC may place a condition on the BOPA that the responsible person will allow DC as the licensing authority to inspect the place of performance on request. The organisation should keep a copy of the BOPA at the place of performance together with any licences that may have been issued independently.  
DC will retain details of children performing under a BOPA for a rolling 12-month period to ensure the welfare and safeguarding children.

2.0 Safeguarding

2.1 Risk assessment

The responsible person is to conduct a risk assessment and submit it to DC with the application. This should identify any physical or psychological risks to the child that might arise from what they are being asked to do and the environment in which they will do it. It should set out proposed actions to be taken to remove or mitigate any significant risks identified. Although it might not always be possible to provide detailed risk assessments containing all relevant information at the time the application is submitted, all the available information should be provided before the date of the first rehearsal and also the date of the first performance if rehearsals are at a different venue to the performance.
In assessing risks, the responsible person should take account of all factors that could affect the child’s wellbeing, including those that may arise after the child has taken part in the performance or activity but as a consequence of it. 
Risk assessments should also identify the likely hazards that might crop up to help ensure they are adequately controlled, but should also include other information such as:
  • general information such as site arrangements, welfare facilities, chaperone arrangements and first aid
  • general site information on slips, trips and falls, scenery movement and other performers
  • production specific information (this may not always be known when first making the assessment)

2.2 Chaperones

Requirement for chaperones

A child taking part in a performance or an activity under a licence, or a rehearsal during the licensing period, must be supervised at all times during the performance, activity or rehearsal by a chaperone that has been approved by DC, unless they are under the direct supervision of their parent, or a person who has parental responsibility (as appointed by a court) for the child, or their teacher. This also applies where the child is living elsewhere than they would normally live during the period in which the licence applies.
This is to ensure that, at all times, a suitable person is responsible for the child’s welfare and it is clear who that person is. For example, this means that if a child is taken to a photo-shoot by a grandparent and they stay with the child for the duration, a chaperone will also need to be present, unless the grandparent has parental responsibility as appointed by a court.  

2.3 Enhanced Disclosure and Barring (DBS) check

DC require all chaperones to have Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, if the chaperone is a volunteer DC will perform an Enhanced DBS with barred list check free of charge. Professional chaperones will be charged £56. 
DC require the responsible person, producer, director and those working in close proximity to children to have a current and clear Enhanced DBS check, if you are self-employed and unable to perform the DBS check on yourself we will undertake the check on your behalf for the fee of £56 in line with the charges for a professional chaperone. 
As of 1 September 2018, DC provide a three-year chaperone license to run in line with the issued Enhanced DBS check. 

2.4 Training 

DC provide updated compulsory online training that includes Safeguarding and Legislation as well as Child Sexual Exploitation. 

3.0 Compliance

3.1 Licensing requirements

DC as the local authority has responsibility for enforcement of the licensing requirements  . When granting a licence for a child to perform or take part in activities in another local authority area, DC must send a copy of the licence, the application form and any other appropriate information, as required by the regulations, to the child employment officer in that area as well as to the child’s parent.
This information is required by the inspecting authority (the authority in which the performance or activity is taking place) when carrying out an inspection of the premises where rehearsals, performances or activities are taking place, in order to enforce the licensing requirements. 

3.2 Record keeping

It's a legal requirement that the responsible person must be able to show the licence at all reasonable hours at such locations to an authorised officer of the local authority or the police.
Licence holders are legally required to retain certain records for 6 months from the date of the last performance or activity to which a licence relates. For example, records of a child’s hours, including rehearsals, breaks or tuition. It's important that these records are updated in real time or as it happens so that they are correct.
These records should remain onsite for the duration of the performance or activity and be available for inspection to an authorised officer of DC as the local authority. They can be requested up to 6 months after the last performance.

3.3 Data protection

We will process your data in line with the requirements of the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.
We have a legislative requirement (see section 4) to process personal data, including special category data (GDPR Article 9) or data related to suspected or actual criminal convictions (GDPR Article 10).  We will process most of our data under the GDPR Article 6.1(e) Public Task and occasionally Article 6.1(d) when it is in the Vital Interests of the young person concerned.


Read our DC privacy notice. 

3.4 Inspections

DC as the local authority have been provided through statute with a number of areas where we must ensure a child's welfare is maintained and a set of offences to consider for further action should those engaging children not meet the standards set.
Key areas that we, DC as the local authority, may look for when inspecting a place of performance or activity are, but not only:
  • making sure the children taking part in the performance are happy, fit and not overworked
  • inspection of the facilities, for example, accommodation, shelter, whether the children have been provided with suitable clothing, food and drink
  • chaperones: supervision and relationship with the child
  • tuition: discussion with tutor, child and parent, inspecting records
  • health and safety: availability, access to and provision of first aid, medical facilities
  • record keeping: inspecting licences and daily record sheets
  • observation and discussion with child, parent, chaperone and production team

A license or BOPA can and will be revoked if DC as the local authority has concerns about the safety and wellbeing of the children involved in the performance.

4.0 Related documents 

Read the following documents for more information:
  • report from the 2014 consultation on child performance hours and breaks
  • Children and Young Persons Act 1933
  • Children and Young Persons Act 1963
  • The Children (Performances and Activities) (England) Regulations 2014 


  1. The Children and Young Persons Act 1933  and 1963 and the Children (Performance) (England) Regulations 2014.
  2. GOV.UK child performance and activities licensing legislation
  3. Or, if the child is not resident in Great Britain, the local authority where the applicant resides or has their place of business.


Date 01.09.2018
Next review date 31.03.2019

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