BODY OF PERSONS APPROVAL
Under Section 37(3)(b) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 a licence is not required for a performance given under arrangements made by "a body of persons" approved by the local authority where the performance is taking place, or in some exceptional circumstances by the Secretary of State.
What is a BOPA?
The first thing to be made clear to both organisations who are applying for and Local Authorities who are issuing Body of Persons Approvals is that a BOPA must not be viewed as a means of "getting round" the requirement for a performance licence. Applying for and granting a BOPA will reduce the administrative burden for all parties, however the same principles apply in terms of safeguarding the child and ensuring there is proper provision to secure his health and kind treatment. There must be no reduction in safeguarding arrangements.
A BOPA, if granted, removes the need to apply for an individual licence for each child; it is granted to the organisation that is responsible for the performance. The approval is granted by the local authority where the performance is taking place; the local authority can grant the approval even if the children taking part do not live within its' boundaries. It is the organisation which is approved not the children i.e. the local authority is confirming that the group or organisation is a ‘suitable’ or ‘approved’ group and therefore must be certain that they (the LA) have taken every reasonable precaution to ensure the group is indeed a suitable group.
A BOPA can be granted to an organisation for a single performance or for a series of performances within a specified time providing no payment is made to the child or to anyone else in respect of the child taking part in the performance and the child does not require absence from school. See Section 7 Absence from School of the NNCEE A Guide to Child Performance Licensing for further details. A BOPA is not transferable to another organisation or to individual children taking part in a performance arranged by someone else. A BOPA cannot be issued in respect of an activity. A BOPA is not a "group licence" nor is it an exemption under the 4 day rule.
Who can apply?
Any type of organisation can apply for a BOPA i.e. amateur group, professional company, stage or broadcast providing there is no payment made (other than expenses) for the child to take part. However they will be required to meet certain criteria and to demonstrate that they have clear, robust and well embedded safeguarding policies and arrangements in place to protect children. This will inform the local authority decision and it is at its discretion whether to issue an approval.
In exceptional circumstances the Secretary of State may issue a BOPA. Department for Education Advice 1.3.7 states the following:
- The Secretary of State has the power to issue a BOPA but will not generally consider applications. This is because local authorities are 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 local authority areas.
Further infomation about BOPA's can be found in "A Guide to Child Performance Licensing" in Downloads.