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Children in Entertainment: Associated Regulations

Dangerous performances for example, some circus acts
No child under the age of 16 and still of compulsory school age may take part in any public performance whereby its life or limbs are endangered.

No child under the age of 12 shall be trained to take part in performances of a dangerous nature.

The Local Authority (in the area the training is to take place) may grant a licence for a child age 12 and over to be trained to take part in performances of a dangerous nature.

The Police of that area must be given seven days' notice of the intention to apply, and may oppose the grant.

A performance of a dangerous nature includes all acrobatic performances and performances as a contortionist.

The Licensing Authority
Must be satisfied that the child's education will not suffer; their health will not suffer; that the place of performance / rehearsal is satisfactory* and that the conditions of the licence will be observed. The licensing authority is empowered to revoke a licence.

*Including satisfactory arrangements for meals, rest, recreation and changing (separate facilities for boys and girls over 5 years of age).

It is the responsibility of the licence applicant to indicate what arrangements have been made for the child's education. These should be agreed with the Head of the child's school before the application is made. It is then for the licensing authority to decide whether these arrangements are satisfactory.

Private tuition is considered essential for long engagements, especially those involving groups of children; eg: long running musicals, TV series. The minimum number of hours for tuition is three hours per normal school day.

A private tutor has to be approved by the licensing authority and may teach a maximum group of five children, except when they are of similar age and standard when the maximum may be eleven.

A combination of private tuition and ordinary school attendance during the currency of a licence is not considered to be satisfactory education.

Medical Examinations
The Local Authority has discretion to require a child to be medically examined if it thinks it necessary. Medical examinations are compulsory for:

  • film or television work;
  • performances lasting more than a week in which the child is to perform on six days in a week (five days for sound broadcasting);
  • every month in the case of runs lasting more than four weeks.

Further examinations are not required within a six month period.

Modelling and sporting activities do not require a medical examination. The regulations require a statement by the child's parent that the child is medically fit for the proposed activity. However, if the licence is for modelling and for a period lasting longer than 7 days a Medical Certificate will be required.

Welfare of Children In Entertainment
The licence holder is responsible for ensuring that a child is supervised at all times and in the charge of a chaperone approved by the licensing authority (except when in the charge of a parent / guardian or tutor). The number of children in a chaperone's charge can vary according to the ages of the children or if they are living away from home, but the maximum is 12.

A tutor may also be approved to act as a chaperone but the number of children must not exceed three.

The licence holder is responsible for ensuring that suitable arrangements are made for the child to get home or other destination after the last performance, rehearsal or activity.

If a child has to stay overnight away from home, their accommodation must be approved by the Local Authority for the area in which they are performing. The child must also be in the care of an approved chaperone during their stay.

Children working abroad
Unless a licence has been granted by a Justice of the Peace, no child under the age of 14 is permitted to go abroad (i.e. outside Great Britain or Northern Ireland) for the purpose of:
  • singing;
  • playing;
  • performing;
  • being exhibited for profit (this includes taking part in any broadcast or recording for the purpose of it being broadcast or used in a film for public exhibition);
  • taking part in a sporting activity;
  • working as a model.

The Justice of the Peace must send certain particulars to the Secretary of State, who then transmits them to the proper Consular Officer.

Children making records or tapes
The involvement of children in making records or tapes is not subject to the laws governing children in entertainment. Making records or tapes is ordinary employment and when children are involved, is subject to Local Education Authority bye-laws.

These bye-laws prohibit the employment of children under 13, and there are restrictions on the amount and type of work, which can be done by children over 13. No child may work without a permit issued by the Local Authority.

Exception: a licensed performance may be recorded whilst it is taking place.

Local Authority's Powers of Entry
With a warrant an authorised officer of a Local Authority or a Police Officer may enter any place, where there is reasonable cause to believe that a child is:
  • believed to be taking part in a performance;
  • being trained for dangerous performance contrary to the provisions of the Act;
  • taking part in a paid sport or working as a paid model, and make enquiries about that person.

Without a warrant, an authorised officer of a Local Authority or a Police Officer:
  • may at any time enter any place used as a broadcasting or film studio, or for the recording of a performance which is to be broadcast, or in a film intended for public exhibition, and make enquiries about any children taking part in performances;
  • may during the currency of any licence granted or relating to training for dangerous performances enter any premises where the performance or training authorised to take place and make enquires about the person to whom the licence relates.

On request the holder of the licence must produce the licence at all reasonable hours, at the place of performance to any authorised officer of the Local Authority or a Police Officer.

More information can be obtained from the Child Employment Team:

email: Child Employment Team

Tel: 0121 303 8900

If you need to see a member of the team a prior appointment is necessary.