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Guidance

Guidance to licensing authorities

Our guidance for licensing authorities.

Contents


3 - Form and content

6.11 The Gambling Act 2005 (Licensing Authority Policy Statement) (England and Wales) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/636) and the Gambling Act 2005 (Licensing Authority Policy Statement) (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (SSI 2006/154), set out requirements as to the form and publication of licensing authority policy statements of policy and subsequent revisions of statements. In addition to those requirements, this guidance sets out certain information that the Commission considers should be included in all licensing authority statements of policy.

6.12 The regulations provide that the form of the statement can be determined by the licensing authority itself, subject to the requirement that the policy statement must contain an introductory section summarising the matters contained within the statement. The introductory section must include:

  • a description of the geographical area to which the policy statement applies, which can be satisfied by including a plan of the area
  • a list of the persons consulted in preparing the statement.

6.13 The policy statement should set out the activities that the licensing authority is able to license.

6.14 The regulations also require the policy statement to set out specific matters in separate sections relating to the principles to be applied by the licensing authority in exercising:

  • i. its powers under s.157(h) of the Act to designate, in writing, a body which is competent to advise it about the protection of children from harm
  • ii. its powers under s.158 of the Act to determine whether a person is an interested party in relation to a premises licence, or an application for or in respect of a premises licence
  • iii. the functions under s.29 and s.30 of the Act with respect to the exchanges of information between it and the Commission, and the functions under s.350 of the Act with respect to the exchange of information between it and the other persons listed in Schedule 6 to the Act
  • iv. the functions under Part 15 of the Act with respect to the inspection of premises and the power under s.346 of the Act to institute criminal proceedings in respect of the offences specified in that section.

Each of these is set out in further detail below.

i. Competent authority for protection of children from harm

6.15 Under s.349 of the Act, the policy statement must set out the principles that the licensing authority proposes to apply in exercising their functions. One of those functions is to determine who will be competent to advise them about the protection of children from harm and so the policy statement must contain a section that sets out the principles the licensing authority will apply in designating a competent body.

6.16 In many licensing authority areas, the recognised competent body will be the local Safeguarding Children Board in England and Wales, or the Child Protection Committee in Scotland. However, the licensing authority has discretion to determine the most appropriate competent body to advise it, and must consider which body best fulfils this function. The policy statement should set out this consideration, or the criteria the authority intends to use, in order to designate that body and confirm that designation in writing.

6.17 A designated body is a responsible authority under s.157(h) of the Act. Licensing authorities should engage fully with the designated body and provide sufficient opportunity for them to be consulted on the development of the policy statement, as they can offer valuable insight into the impact of gambling on children in the local area. Licensing authorities might also opt to consult such groups as part of its own local area profile, discussed at paragraph 6.47 onwards.

ii. Interested parties

6.18 Licensing authority policy statements must contain a section that sets out the principles to be applied by the licensing authority to determine whether a person is an interested party in relation to a premises licence, or in relation to an application for or in respect of a premises licence.

S.158 of the Act defines interested parties as persons who, in the opinion of the licensing authority:

  • a) live sufficiently close to the premises to be likely to be affected by the authorised activities
  • b) have business interests that might be affected by the authorised activities
  • c) represent persons who satisfy paragraph a) or b).

6.20 It is a matter for the licensing authority to decide whether a person is an interested party with regard to particular premises and that should be decided on a case by case basis. However, the licensing authority should set out the principles it will apply in determining whether a person is an interested party in its policy statement, and that may include relevant factors it will take into account. For example, this could be the size of the premises and the nature of the activities taking place as larger premises may be considered to affect people over a broader geographical area compared with smaller premises offering similar facilities.

6.21 Licensing authority policy statements should include guidance as to whom they consider comes within the category of those who living sufficiently close to premises to be affected by it or have business interests, that may be affected by it. For example, this could include trade associations, trade unions, residents’ and tenants’ associations. It is expected that the types of organisations that may be considered to have business interests will be interpreted broadly to include, for example, partnerships, charities, faith groups and medical practices.

iii. Exchange of information

6.22 Licensing authority policy statements must contain a section that sets out the principles to be applied by the licensing authority in relation to the exchange of information with the Commission (s.29 and s.30 of the Act) and other persons (s.350 of the Act).

6.23 S.29 of the Act enables the Commission to require information from licensing authorities, including the manner in which the information is compiled, collated and the form in which it is provided, providing that it:

  • forms part of a register maintained under the Act
  • is in the possession of the licensing authority in connection with a provision of the Act.

6.24 S.350 of the Act allows licensing authorities to exchange information with other persons or bodies for use in the exercise of functions under the Act. Those persons or bodies are listed in Schedule 6(1) as:

  • a constable or police force
  • an enforcement officer
  • a licensing authority
  • HMRC
  • the First Tier Tribunal
  • the Secretary of State
  • Scottish Ministers.

6.25 The licensing authority policy statement must set out how it will approach information exchange with other persons or bodies under the Act, and whether it intends to establish any protocols in this regard. The policy statement should also include the authority’s approach to data protection and freedom of information, in particular, how information will be protected, whether the confidentiality of those making representations will be maintained, what information will be shared with other agencies or persons and how information can be accessed by data subjects.

6.26 Further information regarding the exchange of information can be found in Part 13 of this guidance.

6.27 For the purposes of their policy statement, licensing authorities should confirm that they will act in accordance with the relevant legislation and guidance from the Commission and will adopt the principles of better regulation (detailed at paragraph 5.27).

iv. Inspection and criminal proceedings

6.28 Licensing authority policy statements must contain a section that sets out the principles to be applied by the licensing authority in exercising their inspection function (part 15 of the Act) and in instigating criminal proceedings (s.346 of the Act), except in Scotland.

6.29 The statutory principles of good regulation and the Regulators’ Code10 (paragraph 5.27) apply to licensing authorities. This means that inspection and enforcement activities must be carried out in a way which is transparent, accountable, proportionate, consistent and targeted, and promotes efficient and effective regulatory approaches which improve outcomes without imposing unnecessary burdens on business.

6.30 The policy statement should set out the principles to be applied by the licensing authority in relation to inspections. It is recommended that licensing authorities adopt a risk-based approach to inspection programmes and the policy statement should outline the criteria the licensing authority will use to determine the level of risk in respect of premises. Such an approach could include targeting high-risk premises which require greater attention, whilst operating a lighter touch in respect of low-risk premises, so that resources are more effectively concentrated on potential problem premises. If the licensing authority has a local area profile, as outlined at paragraph 6.47 onwards below, their inspection approach is likely to informed by it.

6.31 Many licensing authorities in England and Wales will have general enforcement policies which are in accordance with the codes of practice developed with the Crown Prosecution Service. Such licensing authorities may wish to refer to these codes in their policy statement, in relation to the management of criminal cases.

6.32 Further guidance on licensing authorities’ compliance and enforcement responsibilities is available in Part 36 of this guidance. This has been developed following discussions between the Commission, the police, licensing authorities and other law-enforcement and regulatory agencies to agree respective roles in relation to particular types of gambling and licensed premises.

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