Biggest overhaul to child performance regulations in over 40 years

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Outdated and confusing child performance rules are to be overhauled, under sweeping changes published by Children’s Minister Tim Loughton.
 
The requirements for licensing under-16s to take part safely in public performances – including television, radio, films or stage – have not been reformed since 1968.
 
But there is widespread concern they are now simply archaic, complex, irrelevant and overly bureaucratic – drawn up in an age with just three television channels and a handful of radio stations; predating the creation of Ofcom; and taking no account of tighter child protection legislation over the last four decades.

The proposed changes will:

  • Speed up the system by making a clear presumption that licences will be issued if it is clear that the safety and welfare of children (before, during and after performances) is not at risk.
  • Put a clear onus on parents to take responsibility for their own children’s activities and producers to show they have put in place robust safeguarding arrangements and thorough risk assessments before they apply for a licence.
  • Clarify, simplify and strengthen guidance on exactly what programmes and shows licences need to be granted for, so young people will be fully protected wherever they perform - from the West End to local theatre; television and radio; film productions, modelling and sport.

Tim Loughton said: "We want to nurture not just the big stars of the future but help all children realise their talents by being able to perform. Everyone should have the chance to act, sing, dance and play sport – giving them memories for life.

"The current rules get in the way of that. They are outdated, complex, confusing and not fit for purpose. They come from an age when there were just three television channels and bear no relation to the broadcasting or performing industries in the 21st century. The rules are incredibly complex, bureaucratic and patchily applied – meaning that many amateur dramatic groups simply do not involve children in their plans, which is ridiculous.

"There is widespread demand for reform and backing for our approach. Child protection must always be paramount but reams of paperwork do not keep anyone safe – responsible adults do.  The new system will require producers to consider all the risks to children from the outset and make robust arrangements to keep them from harm. Children’s safety cannot be an afterthought or a box ticking exercise.

Cutting back unnecessary red tape will free local authorities to focus on helping producers to develop effective safeguarding policies, and to inspect and enforce the requirements."

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