Children in Licensed Premises

Children in Licensed Premises

The old legal requirement for a Childrens Certificate in pub houses has been replaced by a completely different system under the Licensing Act 2003.  It is now at the publican’s discretion as to whether he permits children in his pub or to ban them entirely.

There are now two main points to note in relation to the admission of children in licensed premises.  Firstly, it is an offence to permit children under the age of 16 who are on their own (not accompanied by an adult) to be present on premises being used mainly or primarily for supply of alcohol.  Secondly, it is an offence to allow children under the age of 16 who are not accompanied by an adult in on-licensed premises between midnight and 5 am.  In both circumstances if the young person is accompanied by an adult they are allowed in the premises.
It is important to check your Premises Licence as your Licence may show special conditions in relation to the admission of children on your premises.  For example, many conditions were carried over from the old Licensing Act (so called embedded conditions) and if these appear on your Premises Licence they must still be complied with.

Consumption of alcohol by young persons

The points above relate to the admission of children in licensed premises.
It is STILL a criminal offence to sell alcohol to any person under 18 on any premises.
In relation to the consumption of alcohol by young people it is still an offence for a young person to consume alcohol on licensed premises.  However, one exception to this is a young person of either 16 or 17 years old is allowed to drink beer, cider or wine with a table meal provide an adult accompanies the young person and pays for the drink.
This exception is not widely known and bar snacks such as crisps or nuts do not count as a “table meal”.  Best practice would means meals eaten with a knife and fork…

Offences relating to the sale of alcohol to children

There are many offences which can be committed relating to the sale, purchase and consumption of alcohol but it is best to remember that alcohol can never be sold or purchased by someone under 18.  Offences include:
·         It is an offence to sell alcohol to someone under 18 (ie, in a shop, pub or bar)
·         It is an offence to knowingly allow the sale of alcohol to someone under the age of 18 (this offence could be committed by a junior member of staff and a supervisor if they are both aware that the young person is under age)
·         It is an offence for someone under 18 to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol or for someone over 18 to purchase alcohol on behalf of the young person (so called acting as an “agent”).
·         It is an offence to send someone under 18 to obtain alcohol that is sold for consumption off the premises (ie, when an adult sends a young person to a shop to collect alcohol purchased over the telephone).

Unsupervised Sales of Alcohol

An offence can be committed when an unsupervised person under the age of 18 sells or supplies alcohol.  However, if a “responsible person” (someone over 18 in a supervisory capacity) specifically approves the sale then no offence is committed.  Examples of this type of sale regularly occur in supermarkets or off-licences where the cashier is under 18 and must get approval from a supervisor before the till will allow the sale to continue.

For further advice and assistance in relation to prosecutions for the sale of alcohol to children please contact Hills Licensing by email,