Update 07/02/2019: Please note this article is aimed at helping bands with the upcoming 2019 Area contests. If you would like to talk to us about how CPL might impact on your band during the rest of the year please get in touch with the office for the latest advice.
As bands prepare for the most intense part of the contest season, Brass Bands England wants to help them to ensure that they are on the right side of the law regarding Child Performance Licensing requirements. The need for Child Performance Licences is becoming more relevant as local authorities begin to clamp down on the rules, and if your band has anyone under the age of 16 then you are advised to act now in order to be compliant. BBE’s Development Manager Alex Parker explains why.
What is Child Performance Licensing?
Child Performance Licensing is legislation introduced to regulate performances by children under the age of 16. (Update 19/02/19: This is defined as children still of compulsory school age, which is the last Friday in June of Year 11). Its intention is to protect children from commercial exploitation and from inappropriate working hours to the detriment of their education, especially those who perform or appear on stage or in TV shows. This legislation was originally passed in 1963, but has only recently started being enforced after new regulations were introduced in 2014. It is also worth remembering that this is UK-wide legislation and applies equally in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The responsibility for the licence falls to event organisers, but to perform knowing a license is not in place also then passes responsibility to performing organisations. Child Performance Licenses need to be issued by the local authority in which each child lives, which means that many bands, especially those near an authority border, may need to make applications to more than one council. There is one exception to this - a Body of Persons Approved (BOPA), which can be issued by the local authority in which a performance takes place. These can be useful to bands that may be able to use one to cover most of their activities that take place within your home local authority, as well as covering multiple young people. It can also be useful to event organisers as they can cover children from multiple local authorities with one document and one process.
Whilst there are some exceptions to the licence requirements, when a performance takes place in a venue licensed to sell alcohol, all exemptions are void. This means that because all regional contests take place in venues which have licences, all children under the age of 16 who take part will need to be covered by either a licence (applied for individually per child) or by a BOPA (collective cover).
Any band with concerns over compliance with the regulations should contact BBE directly on firstname.lastname@example.org for advice and support in making applications. In order to comply with either a licence or BOPA, there are some other things you will need to consider:
- You will need enough licensed chaperones to supervise the young people in your band. As a minimum this is either a parent (note not a grandparent) per child or one licensed chaperone per 12 young people (this ratio is lower for younger players). It is also important to know that chaperones cannot have other roles whilst they are acting as chaperones. For some local authorities this means the chaperone cannot be playing with the band. In addition, you may find that your local authority may lower the need for licensed chaperones and you simply need adults with DBS checks.
- You will need to collect parental consent and emergency information. This may need to be given to the local authority directly or you may simply need to sign a declaration that the data has been collected and will be held by you on the day of the performance. This data will also need to be collected in a way that complies with GDPR legislation.
- You may need to allow local authority inspectors to inspect your activities and check your documents.
- You will require a Child Protection Policy.
- Photographic consent will be required from parents when it is expected that there will be photographers present (almost all band events today).
- A risk assessment of the performance venue will need to be carried out.
- You must ensure that children are supervised the whole time they are with you.
What do I need to do for my Regional contest?
No uniform process has yet been agreed by the organisers of the National Brass Band Championships, so the requirements will vary from region to region. Below we outline if your Regional contest has yet applied for a BOPA or if you are required to make applications for child licences individually.
London and Southern Counties (includes Channel Islands)
The London and Southern Counties Area Committee has indicated that, at the moment, there is no provision in place for Child Performance Licensing. This means that all bands will need to apply for a Child Performance Licence from each child's local authority or request a BOPA from Hertfordshire County Council directly.
Update 09/02/19: The London and Southern counties have applied for a BOPA to cover bands at this year's contest. They have issued a notice that bands need to comply with which can be found here. This means bands in the London and Southern Counties need to do the following:
To be compliant with the requirements of Hertfordshire County Council bands need to supply details of all performers of 16 and under to include:
- Date of birth
- Any existing medical conditions
- Parental consent
- Name of local authority of residence
It is paramount that each child is accompanied by a parent and by concession the Council have agreed that it is not a condition that the parent is non-playing so that both parents are allowed to perform with their child. It would be recommended that any band with several children have DBS accredited chaperones, by way of law at least 1 for every 12 children.
If you need DBS forms carried out BBE are able to help bands with this but as time is tight please contact the office ASAP.
The Midlands Area Committee has indicated that, at the moment, there is no provision in place for Child Performance Licensing. This means that all bands will need to apply for a Child Performance License from each child's local authority, or request a BOPA from Warwickshire Council directly.
Update 06/02/19: Warwickshire Council has indicated that they cannot issue BOPAs direct to bands. This means bands will need to apply for a licence from the Local Authority in which the child lives. Warwickshire has also confirmed that the areas has, from before publication of this article, been due an inspection for compliance. As a result, bands must make sure they are in compliance. Warwick will be expecting licences to be in place from the child's home authority, the band to have a Safeguarding Policy in place (for free help on this please visit bbe.org.uk/what-we-do/bandsafe) and the appropriate number of Chaperones present.
North of England
No decision has yet been made, but BBE is in communication with the Area committee and will communicate a decision when it is reached. At the moment this means that all bands will need to apply for a Child Performance Licence from each child's local authority or request a BOPA from Durham County Council directly.
Update 05/03/19: The North of England Committee have applied for a BOPA to cover the event. We haven't yet got detials of anything bands need to do to comply before the event but as reported on 4barsrest.com Tony Griffiths told 4BR: "I must stress that it is the individual bands' responsibility to make sure any young people under the age of 16 have appropriate chaperones and must be escorted in holding areas as well as through any licensed areas."
Update 07/03/2019: Today we have received this update from Tony Griffiths Regional Secretary of the North of England
“I’ve contacted other local authorities in the region and discussed the brass band performance situation, specifically the requirement that the person chaperoning, usually a parent, should not be performing themselves. I’ve suggested that we accept a parent as chaperone in those circumstances and there have been no objections. It’s agreed that, given the circumstances of a band performance where all band members are on stage and performing at the same time in contrast to other types of performance, there are no safeguarding issues. I also have the agreement of my line manager who is the person responsible for safeguarding in education.”
"With ith this information it should make this issue easier to deal with by bands. I still recommend that all bands go for a registered chaperone that will cover you all year while performing. I have advised all bands of what is required. The NOEBBC are fully compliant with the advice given by Durham County Council and other Local Authorities. We have applied for a BOPA and with the new advice above it will make this issue much easier to implement."
North West (includes Northern Ireland)
The North West Region has secured a BOPA from the local authority in Blackpool. This means that the Regional Committee has ensured most of the compliance on the bands’ behalf. Competing bands have been sent a group participation form that they need to complete (including nil returns) and return to the Contest Secretary by 16 February to coincide with the last date of registration with Brass Band Players. The committee will then return the forms to the licensing officer at Blackpool Council directly. Bands will also need to carry a register with the names of the children and supervising adults. The Council has agreed that bands don’t need registered chaperones this year (although these may be required for next year). Bands should still have their own safeguarding policy, but Blackpool Council has already received the NWABBA policy and risk assessment.
The Scottish Brass Band Association have advised that bands should make their own provision for Child Performance Licensing for the Scottish Championships and a BOPA has not been applied for.
As far as we at BBE are currently aware, this means that all bands will need to apply for a Child Performance Licence from each child's local authority or request a BOPA from Perth and Kinross Council directly.
The Welsh Regional Committee has indicated that it is leaving responsibility for compliance with the bands. This means that all bands will need to apply for a Child Performance Licence from each child's local authority or request a BOPA from Wrexham Borough Council directly.
Update 05/03/19: The Regional Secretary in Wales has let us know that there will be a BOPA in place for the Welsh regional championships. Bands do not need to provide any extra information before the event but must make sure they have their safeguaring policy with them and the required number of chaperones in attendance (1 chaperone per 12 children)
West of England
The West of England Regional Committee has advised bands that they are required to ensure they comply and a BOPA has not been applied for. This means that all bands will need to apply for a Child Performance Licence from each child's local authority or request a BOPA from Torbay Council directly.
Update 06/02/19: The West of England Regional Committee have confirmed that a BOPA will be inplace on the day of the contest. The requirements for this are:
It is a requirement for any band with a player(s) under the age of 16 to forward the appropriate details direct to Torbay Council. Available below is a document for completion which should be posted direct to Torbay Council or sent via email (see details at the bottom of the form). Please do not send this form to WEBBA directly.
Torbay Council will also require the details of any licensed chaperones accompanying these children to this event - also required on the form above.
The WEBBA contact at Torbay Council is Mark Blackledge who is happy to help with any queries you may have. His direct contact number is 01803 207588 from 8.00 - 1.00 and 2.00 - 4.00 Monday to Friday or via email at email@example.com.
Please do still notify WEBBA in advance with the details of any non-playing Safeguarding Officer/chaperone for your band who will require access to the band assembly area on the contest day itself.
The Yorkshire Regional Committee has indicated that at the moment there is no provision in place for Child Performance Licensing. This means that all bands will need to apply for a Child Performance Licence from each child's local authority or request a BOPA from Kirklees Council directly.
Update 06/02/19: The Yorkshire regional Committee has confirmed that a BOPA will be inplace on the day of the contest. The requirements for this will be sent to bands directly please make sure you have read and understood the requirements for your band.
Why you need to act?
Failure to comply with child licensing regulations could result in a fine, imprisonment or even both! That said, to date, no amateur organisation has had either of these actions taken against it, but there have been cases where children have been prevented from taking part in a performance because of failure to comply in time, including at last year’s inaugural Youth Brass in Concert. If by chance, the contest was to be inspected on the day, this could result in players in your band not being allowed on stage.
What happens after the Regionals?
Unfortunately, the way the legislation has been worded has resulted in it being applied to all children and young people taking part in leisure activities such as music, affecting everything from taking part in local music education hub activities, through to their local brass band.
Local authorities, quite rightly, take their role in child protection very seriously, but at a time when their funding has been significantly cut back, councils are understaffed and struggling to manage requests for Child Performance Licences. This understaffing sees councils passing as much of the administrative burden of the licensing requirements as possible onto the organisations that need them. Where once they were able understand the activities of bands and use their discretionary powers granted to them, they are now becoming increasingly strict in enforcing the regulations. The result of this can be quite a lot of extra work for voluntary groups like brass bands and, in cases where last-minute changes are needed or legitimate mistakes made, our young people are actually denied the musical opportunities we provide them.
What are the problems with the legislation?
The main issue is that brass bands are covered by the legislation. Amateur sport is explicitly exempt from the requirements, even though it could be argued many sports pose greater risks to children when changing or appearing in public. Beyond this, the biggest issue is that the means to comply is different for each local authorities, of which there are over 300 in England alone. This means that, for example, one local authority might require bands to use licensed chaperones but another may decide that adults with a DBS check would be sufficient for supervising the young people. This makes it difficult if a band has children in multiple local authorities or if the event has many participants from multiple different local authorities.
There are other problems in the legislation that include sometimes ill-considered policies, such as one council that stated in a recent meeting that a mother could not act as the chaperone for her own daughter (even if sitting playing next to her in the band!), the reason given being that she was not acting ‘solely as a chaperone’ in that situation.
We believe that this application process does not actually meet its aim of making children safer as it both distracts from organisers actually focusing on making bands safe but could also create so much additional work for parents that it makes organisations who are non-compliant seem more attractive.
How can BBE help?
BBE can support member bands in becoming compliant with the legislation, whether that’s on the 'phone with advice through to supporting you in meetings with your local authority where it becomes necessary. We also have advice available to our members in the member's resources area of our website. To access this go to bbe.org.uk/user/register to create an account and then request to join your band. Your band manager will then approve you to access the website.
In addition, members can get DBS checks for free. BBE also offer the free self-assessment tool BandSafe to help you develop your own relevant safeguarding policy; this is available to non-members as well as current members. More information on BandSafe can be found at www.bbe.org.uk/what-we-do/bandsafe. BandSafe was developed along with the NSPCC to help bands create the safe space that children need to thrive.
Finally, BBE is about to launch a new safeguarding course developed with the NSPCC. The first event will be held on Sunday 28 April 2019 (9:00 am) at The Hawth, Crawley. Similar courses direct from the NSPCC can cost in excess of £200 but are now to be offered by BBE starting from £20 for the launch event. Tickets are available at bbe.org.uk/events. Future dates will be announced in due course.
What can you do to help?
There are some practical things that band members can do, including young people themselves, and that is to write to your MP directly to highlight this issue. You can find your MP online by going to https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/ by contacting them you will begin to raise the issue so that as momentum builds they will be more informed.
Ultimately we can only recommend that bands comply with the law and don’t risk a fine or imprisonment. Talk to your local council directly about its requirements for licences. We can point bands in the direction of best practice guidance resources to help you plan what you need to do.
Finally, whilst this legislation is flawed on a practical level, the ideas behind it represent something we all want in banding - a safe place for children and young people to come to learn music, so together let's go forward and ensure we keep our youngest members safe via good practice safeguarding.