Licensing resources – for businesses & event organisers

Since the introduction of Local Safeguarding Boards in 2006, changes have been made to the way in which premises such as bars, restaurants, shops etc apply for a premises licence.

Each application now has to clearly identify what measures they are taking to safeguard children from harm – this could be through policies for staff or protective measures for customers.

Under the Licensing Act 2003 children will normally have access to licensed premises unless there is a clear need for them to be excluded, such as adult entertainment venues, nightclubs or gambling establishments.

Advice on the requirements for a temporary event can be found on our events and festivals resource.

Advice on the requirements for the employment of children and young people can be found on our children in entertainment & employment (CEE) resource.

Under age drinking & under 18’s events

Please read this advice before you arrange or agree to host an under 18’s event, as failure to comply could impact on your premises licence. If in doubt please visit the Manchester City Council Licensing pages on their website or contact the licensing unit at

We have put together some resources below to assist those considering hosting an under 18’s events:

Hotels and the hospitality trade

In addition their responsibilities as licensed premises, hotels and the hospitality trade should be aware of safeguarding issues and potential activities such as child sexual exploitation (CSE).

For more information visit the It’s Not Okay website at

It is important that premises train their staff to recognise the signs of child sexual exploitation and make sure they know how to report it.

CSE and licensed premises

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) destroys the lives of children and families – abusers often make use of certain types of businesses and premises when carrying out child sexual exploitation – for example hotels, shisha bars, takeaways and bars.

We have provided a number of resources that organisations can use to ensure all their staff understand the issues around CSE, what the warning signs are and who to contact if they have concerns, these include:

Further display materials can be found on the It’s Not Okay website at

Premises licence applications – what the MSCB expect

The Manchester Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB) – as a Responsible Authority under the Licencing Act 2003 – expects all applicants to detail in their operating schedule how they intend to protect children from harm in their premises or as a result of the activities requested in their license (for example, the sale of alcohol).

Membership of a Responsible Retailer scheme will help you to fulfill this criteria – for more information visit the Manchester City Council website at

Where children have access to licensed premises measures to ensure their safety and extra resources need to be considered.

Licence Applicants/Licensees can reduce the risk of harm to children by considering:

  • age restrictions for all or part of the time the premises is open, this may include times at which there is adult entertainment, drink promotion nights etc
  • ensuring all staff coming into contact with children/young people are vetted:
    • this may include DBS checks for staff, proof of identity and a record of employment history
  • training staff to be aware of safeguarding issues such as proxy sales:
    • don’t allow untrained staff to sell alcohol to consumers
  • displaying signage about the laws relating to children and alcohol
  • compliance with the Portman Group code of practice on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcoholic drinks
  • using CCTV/Security to monitor the vicinity in and around the premises/event
  • considering how the premises can work with the community to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Consult the ‘Model conditions for premises under the Licensing Act 2003‘ for more detailed information at

Sales of alcohol at licensed premises

What the law says:

  • It is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 18.
  • When alcohol is sold to an underage person, the person who conducts the sale is responsible in law.
    • The owner of the alcohol – who may also be the premises licence holder – is also responsible.
  • A person in a capacity to prevent a sale can be responsible in law if they allow an underage sale to take place.
  • If a sale is made by a person under 18, the responsible person who allows the sale may also be responsible in law.

Steps you can take to avoid committing an offence
Sales staff

  • Unless it is beyond doubt that a buyer is over 18 you must take steps to check the buyer’s age:
    • ask for proof of age and only accept identification which bears a photograph such as a ‘PASS’ approved proof of age scheme card, new-style driving licence or passport;
    • if the buyer cannot prove that they are over 18 you must refuse to sell them alcohol.
  • Record the refusal in accordance with the procedures operated by your employer.
  • Use a ‘Challenge 25’ approach:
    • rather than trying to guess whether someone is 18 or not, consider whether they might be under 25;
    • if so, request proof of age and politely refuse if this is not available.
  • Do not fail to ask for proof of age simply because you think you might cause offence – remember that if you sell to someone under 18 you will be breaking the law.
  • If you are under 18, you cannot sell alcohol without being authorised to do so and supervised – make sure you know who your supervisor is whenever you are at work.
    • Do not sell if you are unable to have the sale supervised.

Premises and Personal Licence Holders

  • If you are conducting a sale yourself, follow the advice given to sales staff above.
  • Staff training is vital – you should ensure that all staff are:
    • trained at the start of their employment;
    • that the training is repeated at regular intervals to ensure that staff do not forget or become complacent;
    • you can demonstrate you have trained your staff by keeping records of training or instructions given;
    • employees to date and sign training records to confirm that they have understood.
  • Reminders of the law at the point of sale are a good idea:
    • this can be by means of a ‘till prompt’ if you have an EPOS system, or by notices on the tills;
    • move reminders around or replace them frequently to help your staff notice them.
  • In order to check that your staff are following the training they have been given you should set up a ‘Refusals Register’ (or similar system) whereby staff can record the occasions on which they refuse a sale:
    • the Premise Licence Holder and Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) should check this record frequently and sign it to show that it is being monitored;
    • you should investigate if the refusal record is not in accordance with the normal operating pattern for the premises;
    • if the refusals record shows that some staff refuse more sales than others, or make fewer refusals than you would normally expect, you should check why this occurs and take appropriate action;
    • make comments in the register to explain what you did, and when.
  • The Premise Licence Holder and Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) have a responsibility to ensure that staff are complying with the law, as they can be liable for any sale that takes place – whether they are present or not:
    • regular supervision of employees to ensure they are following instructions is important;
    • consider ways in which your staff can keep in touch, or be seen if you are away from the sales area, such as intercoms, signals or CCTV systems.
  • Do not allow salespersons under 18 to operate alone at times when alcohol is on sale:
    • make sure that an authorised supervisor is overseeing them at all times and make arrangements to avoid the supervisor having to be called away from the sales area – to carry out other duties for example.
  • The Licensing Act 2003 requires that you have a proof of age policy in place:
    • we recommend you adopt Challenge 25;
    • because of the difficulty in assessing the age of purchasers, particularly those in their late teens, it is wise to err on the side of safety and ask anyone who appears to be under 25 to prove their age when purchasing alcohol;
    • display informative notices for your customers to help them understand you are operating these schemes to avoid making sales to under 18’s and prevent your staff from breaking the law.
  • Customer notices on the premises can be used to make customers aware of what they can legally purchase and to alert them to the fact that a sale is likely to be refused.
  • Check ID carefully to make sure it is valid:
    • display information for customers on acceptable ID.

Enforcement of the Law

  • The law relating to the sale of alcohol from off-licences is jointly enforced by the Police and the Trading Standards:
    • sales of alcohol from public houses/hotels etc. are usually dealt with by the Police.
  • Trading Standards provide advice and education to traders and consumers, including parents, teachers and young people:
    • they will investigate complaints about traders alleged to have sold alcohol to under 18’s;
    • they use young volunteers to attempt to buy alcohol -they behave as ordinary customers, under the supervision of Trading Standards staff;
    • national guidelines are followed to ensure that the procedure is fair;
    • if a sale takes place, legal proceedings and licensing sanctions could follow.


  • The maximum penalty for selling alcohol to a person under 18 is a fine of £5000.
  • If you sell to under 18’s ‘persistently’ – that is twice in any 3-month period, the maximum penalty is £20,000;
    • alternatively, an offer to accept closure for alcohol sales of a minimum of 48 hours up to a maximum of 14 days may be made in lieu of prosecution.
  • The Courts may suspend or revoke personal licences.
  • Fixed Penalty notices can be issued by the police to persons who sell alcohol to under 18’s and those who buy for under 18’s.
  • Authorities may apply for review of personal and/or premises licences which may result in removal of a DPS, additional licence conditions, and/or a suspension of licence for up to 3 months.
  • If considered appropriate, licences can be revoked.
  • Remember:
    • these laws exist to safeguard the health of young people – the authorities may prosecute offenders without warning;
    • if you or your staff are caught selling alcohol to a child you will face a legal interview to assess whether you had taken all reasonable steps to avoid committing the offence;
    • Doing nothing is never sufficient.

Visit Trading Standards Manchester at for more information.

Proxy sales

A proxy sale is when an adult attempts to buy an age restricted products on behalf of an underage person.

How to spot proxy sales:

  • When a group of youths congregates outside approaching members of the public who enter the store.
  • If members of the public who might have been approached, ask for the same alcohol product, etc which you have just refused to sell to an underage person.
  • If the adult pays separately for the product and keeps the change separate.
  • If the age restricted product is kept separate from their other shopping.
  • If you know your local community and your customers, and the purchase of such an alcoholic product is totally out of character, remind them that it is an offence to ‘proxy’ purchase.
  • If the adult re-enters the store to buy alcohol after they have left.

You do not have to sell anything to anyone if you are in doubt.

Such Best Practice procedures should be adopted for all age restricted products, however at present it is only an offence for an alcohol proxy sale. Section 149 of the Licensing Act 2003 makes it an offence for a person to purchase, or attempt to purchase alcohol, for a child, as where a child gives money to an adult to buy alcohol in an off licence for consumption by the child.

Who is responsible for the sale?
The person making, or attempting to make, the purchase (unless by the parent or legal guardian for responsible consumption within the home).

For more information visit Trading Standards Manchester on the Council’s website at

Fake ID

How to identify fake and genuine ID:

  • Read what is actually written on the card:
    • does it say Driving Licence or Provisional Driving Licence?
    • or does it say National Identity Card, Driving Permit etc?
    • does it say European Identity Card or European Driving Permit?
  • Is the card too thick or too rigid/Is it too flexible?
  • Does it have a swipe bar on the back?
  • Is the person in front of you the same person in the photograph?
  • Has the date been altered?
  • What are the conditions on the alcohol licence about acceptable forms of ID?

The Licensing Act does place a burden on the sales person to check that the person they are selling to is over 18, unless no one would believe that the person was underage. The Act requires them to ask the person for evidence of their age and that evidence should convince or satisfy a reasonable person.

Remember it is important that sales assistants either take the ID off the customer and/or take the ID out of any holder so that they can feel it and look at it closely. This also enables them to look closely at the photo on the print. It may also enable them to use a UV or black light to check security measures.

If you don’t know whether or not you have a problem with fake or novelty ID in your area, speak to your Police Licensing Unit, Trading Standards or SIA Door Staff; also speak to other local traders.

Children will often target premises at a time when they know staff will be busy and distracted. For example, Wednesday and Saturday evenings where the premises sells lottery tickets. They may come in as a large group, then one or two will approach separately and attempt to buy the age restricted products. There is the perception that the shop staff will be under pressure for example, with the lottery products or watching the group for shop-lifting etc.

Children may also enter a large premises then split-up and the older ones in the group, or the one with ID (fake or genuine), will attempt to buy the alcohol.

The Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) is the UK’s national proof of age accreditation scheme, endorsed by the Home Office, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the Security Industry Authority (SIA) and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).

For more information on the scheme visit the PASS website at

Age restricted products and Solvent abuse

See our resource on age restricted products and solvent abuse for more information

More information sources

  • The Portman Group website at
  • Information on the different types of alcohol licences available and guidance on how to apply for them on the government website at
  • Trading Standards Manchester on the Council’s website at

Got a question?

Use our quick Q+A to find commonly asked questions.

Can’t find what you are looking for?

View our resources page

Latest News and Training & Events

We try to keep our news feed as up to date as possible and feature items of interest to practitioners and volunteers across our partnership.




This protocol provides guidance and signposting to support for schools and colle ...



We are pleased to share our Annual Report for the period 1st April 2020 to 31st ...




The Manchester Safeguarding Partnership (MSP) partners are clear about their res...



A variety of free online Safeguarding Adults courses can be accessed by anyone ...


GMFRS logo
nwas logo
CPS logo
Christie logo
Cafcass logo
GMSP logo
hw_manchester logo
Macc logo
PAHT logo
MFT logo
mhcc logo
NHS England logo
CRC logo
NPS logo
GMP logo
Barnardo's logo
MCC logo
Manchester Safeguarding Boards