What is a Body of Persons Approval?
Middlesbrough Council has powers under the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 S37(3)(b) to issue an exemption licence to a 'body of persons' to enable an organisation to engage children in public performance without the need for separate performance licences to be issued. This is subject to certain criteria being met, and if granted, is known as a Body of Persons Approval.
It is typically used by organisations such as local dramatics groups, choirs, or orchestras. The Body of Persons Approval lasts for a year, and if you hold several performances in that time you do not need to reapply, although you do need to notify us of all performances and children involved.
Who can apply for a Body of Persons Approval?
The 2015 guidance Child Performance and Activities Licensing Legislation in England states that any type of organisation responsible for putting on a performance can apply for a BOPA. It doesn’t matter if they are a professional company, amateur group, stage, or broadcast – as long as no payment (other than expenses) is made for the child to take part, and they do not require absence from school.
The organisation that is responsible for putting on the performance, and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the children taking part, should apply for the BOPA.
Who can issue a BOPA?
The decision on whether to issue a BOPA is at our (the council's) discretion (or the discretion of the Secretary of State). We need assurance that the organisation has clear, robust, and well embedded policies for safeguarding children.
The Secretary of State has the power to issue a BOPA, but will not generally consider applications. This is because the council is better placed to assess arrangements made to safeguard children in local activities, to inspect those arrangements, and enforce any requirements or conditions intended to protect children.
The Secretary of State will not consider any applications that do not involve a large number of performances with a large number of children across a significant number of council areas.
Who in an organisation can apply for a Body of Persons Approval?
The chair of the group can apply, seconded by another group member. If the chair, seconder, or child protection officer changes during the period of the Body of Persons Approval, we must be notified.
Does a performance still have to comply with the law?
Yes, a performance will still have to comply with the law. For example, the times that a child can perform, and the requirement to have registered chaperones with the children at the place of performance, will still apply.
Where a performance is taking place under the authorisation of a BOPA, the legislation doesn't require that every child is supervised by a chaperone approved by the council; however we make it a condition under regulation 5 of the Children (Performances and Activities) (England) Regulations 2014. We won't issue a BOPA to an organisation unless it provides chaperones.
Remember, a BOPA doesn't authorise absence from school for any child involved in the performances.
Failure to comply with Children & Young Persons Act 1963 and the Children (Performances and Activities) (England) Regulations 2014 is a criminal offence. If convicted, you would face a maximum penalty of £1,000, or three months' imprisonment, or both, for each offence.
Supervision of children
All children must be chaperoned by their own parent/s or a licensed chaperone. Regulations require a ratio of 1 adult to 12 children.
However, good practice recommends that both a male and a female chaperone are available to enable any gendered issues to be accommodated, as well as allowing for continued supervision of the children should it be necessary for a chaperone to deal with individual issues when they arise.
Please note, unless a parent is a licensed chaperone, they cannot chaperone any children other than their own.
Restrictions and conditions
We can only authorise Body of Persons Approvals for organisations in relation to performances taking place in Middlesbrough. We can do this even if the production involves children from other council areas. This is because it is the organisation putting on the performance which is approved, rather than the individual children. If there are children involved from other areas, we will share the information with the relevant councils.
A Child Performance Licence would be needed for a child if payment is made to them for taking part.
A BOPA cannot authorise absence from school - a Child Performance Licence is needed if a child is required to be absent from school to take part in the performance.
A BOPA cannot authorise performances abroad.
Conditions to obtain a Body of Persons Approval from Middlesbrough Council
- No payment is being made to enable the children to participate and school absence is not required.
- The applicant organisation has a child protection policy (reviewed/updated every 12 months) and a procedure in place for how this is communicated and followed.
- The organisation has a designated child protection/safeguarding officer.
- The applying organisation has carried out a risk assessment for the venue being used for the performance.
- There will be qualified first aider present at the venue.
- There will be sufficient chaperones present at the performance(s). The name, address, and approving council (where applicable) of each chaperone must be provided.
- The Child Performance Regulations must be adhered to in every respect with particular regard to designated changing rooms, toilets, performance hours, etc.
- The applying organisation has supplied contact details for the person in charge of the organisation.
- The applying organisation must provide details of all of the children taking part in the production (group participant information) at least 21 days prior to the date of the first performance.
- A Parental Health Declaration must be completed for each child performing.
- A register must be completed and available for inspection noting the arrival and departure time of each child engaged in the performance.
- An accident book is kept and made available for inspection, recording all accidents or incidents that may have occurred.
How does an organisation apply for a Body of Persons Approval?
You'll also need to complete the group participant information form.
Alternatively you can request an application form by emailing CEEL@middlesbrough.gov.uk.
The application must be submitted at least 21 days prior to a performance.
If an organisation is awarded Body of Persons Approval, what happens next?
The organisation will receive a Body of Approval certificate.
If the Approval is being awarded on an annual basis, you will still need to notify us every time a performance takes place. You'll need to fill in the group participant information form for every performance. You must submit the information 21 days before any performance.
What happens if a group has been awarded the approval, then one or more of the children no longer meet the criteria, for example a child requires time off school to take part in a performance?
If a child no longer meets the criteria, an individual Child Performance Licence application must be submitted for that child. The Approval may still apply to other children within the group.
What records must the organisation keep?
The notification form which advises the local council that a performance is taking place.
The following information relating to the days that the children are performing:
- the date of the performance
- the time that the child arrives and leaves the place of performance
- the times that the child took part in the performance
- the time of each rest and meal break
- details of any injuries or illnesses suffered by a child at the place of performance
This information should be kept for a period of 6 months after the performance has ended.
Can the Body of Persons Approval be revoked?
Yes. We can revoke the Approval if the organisation does not comply with the Grounds of Approval.
Who can I talk to for further information or advice?
Contact Middlesbrough Council via email to CEEL@middlesbrough.gov.uk.