This guidance explains the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004 (AALR), the implications for health and safety enforcing authorities (EA) and the working arrangements with the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority and Service.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is designated under the Activity Centres (Young Persons' Safety) Act 1995 (1995 Act) as the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA). AALA has contracted Tourism Quality Services Ltd (TQS), operating as the Adventure Activities Licensing Service (AALS) to deliver most of the day-to-day licensing activities.
This guidance replaces OC331-5 and LAC 47-22, which are withdrawn.
The 1995 Act set up a licensing scheme that applies to providers of specified adventure activities to young people under 18 years of age. AALR and Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSW) apply to most licensed activity providers. AALR do not replace or override the HSW duties.
Activity providers take many forms including sole traders, Local Authority departments, as well as conventional ‘activity centres’.
There are some voluntary accreditation schemes in this sector offered by some of the national governing bodies of sport. There is also a multi-activity accreditation known as “Adventuremark”. A voluntary accreditation does not replace the need to hold a licence where required.
AALS inspectors sample both licensable and non-licensable activities and there is no legal requirement for a provider who holds an AALA licence to join any other scheme.
Many providers offer both licensable and non-licensable activities. This guidance aims to avoid gaps or duplication in regulating activity providers, while ensuring that each party gets the information it needs so that they can be satisfied that all aspects of provision have been appropriately considered.
Under AALR, there are two types of adventure activities: those that require a licence and those that do not. In reality, there are three types of adventure activity provision:
Record interventions and enforcement in the usual way. Advise AALA when enforcement action against a licensed provider is taken or proposed as this may have implications for their licence.
Contact between EAs and the relevant AALS inspector is encouraged to facilitate good working relationships and information exchange. EAs should copy letters to licensed providers about adventure activities to AALA.
EAs and AALA will liaise closely over matters requiring formal enforcement action. However, AALS will use its powers under AALR wherever appropriate and EAs will not normally need to intervene in circumstances such as refusal or revocation of a licence.
Where AALS is aware of a situation at a licensed centre that requires referral to the EA, it will obtain as much information as possible within its powers. Such information might include;
EAs can ask for assistance to investigate accidents or incidents. AALA will provide what assistance it can on both licensable and non-licensable activities, particularly those that may result in formal enforcement action against either a provider or an individual.
The EA needs to consider the level of expert knowledge required. Although AALS inspectors have considerable expertise in activity provision, they are not all experts in every licensable activity. It may be necessary to seek other expert opinion in some cases and AALA may be able to identify suitable individuals. Where providing expert opinion results in additional costs to AALA, these may be recovered from the EA. These costs will be subject to negotiation and agreement between both parties on a case-by-case basis.
AALA will deal with any requests for disclosure of information about licensing matters under FOI.
Adventure Activities Licensing Authority
53 Bothwell Street
AALS inspectors will take appropriate and proportionate action to address any deficiencies they find. If they find deficiencies with any adventure activity, irrespective of whether or not it is licensable, they will address it. Where matters fall outside of the regulations, AALS will bring these to the attention of the enforcing authority if the provider does not address them voluntarily. In the great majority of cases, AALS intervention is adequate.
AALS conducts sampling inspections focused on safety management and activity provision. They do not inspect every activity but focus on activities that will yield the most useful information. The inspection seeks to identify all adventure activities, both licensable and non-licensable, as the two are commonly related.
AALS handle initial representations from providers about licensing decisions. If AALS cannot resolve the matter, the provider may make formal representations to the AALA. If the matter cannot be resolved, there is a formal right of appeal under AALR reg. 15. There is no appeal to the enforcing authority on licensing decisions.
There is no change in responsibilities in relation to HSW because of AALR. Note, whether or not AALS has taken action does not prevent the enforcing authority from taking any action they see fit.
LAs should note that activities may take place away from the activity centre and should consider undertaking proactive inspection even if they are in another authority’s geography. Note: any proactive inspection undertaken should be in line with the requirements of the National Local Authority Enforcement Code.
AALS inspect providers at least once every three years and EAs should consider this when they prioritise inspections. EAs should focus on providers who do not hold a licence in accordance with their own arrangements, resources and priorities. Duplication of inspection is undesirable but a joint inspection may be appropriate where specific HSW concerns need addressing at a licensed provider.
Where all or some of a provider’s adventure activities are subject to AALR, the EAs involvement will normally be reactive. Their involvement with other HSW matters, that is, arrangements other than their adventure activities, is not affected. They should inform AALS of their intention to make a reactive visit related to licensable activities. The EA has sole responsibility for enforcement action under HSW and investigation of reportable accidents and dangerous occurrences, even where matters are within the scope of AALR.
EAs should co-operate with AALA over any action they have taken, or propose to take, at licensed activity centres. In particular by:
Information exchange is essential to ensure that AALA is aware of any matters of concern that could be of wider relevance to the sector and of any matters that may affect a provider’s licence.
The substance of a complaint determines the responsibility for investigation.
|Complaint about||Who investigates?||Note|
|Provider offering only non-licensable activities||EA||AALS assists if needed|
|Provider offering only licensable activities||AALS||Refer matter to EA if other HSW matters involved or enforcement action required|
|Provider offering both licensable and non-licensable activities||AALS||Refer matter to EA if other HSW matters involved or enforcement action required|
Matters of evident concern at adventure activity providers that come to the attention of AALS will be dealt with as follows:
Matters of evident concern relating to activity providers may come to the attention of the EA. They should bring these to the attention of AALA in the following way:
Examples of matters of evident concern
Other offences which EAs should pursue.