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Sex Establishment Licence

Definition of terms

Sex Establishments are required to be licensed under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

A sex establishment can either be a sexual entertainment venue, sex shop or a sex cinema.

A sexual entertainment Venue is a premises at which relevant entertainment such as a display of nudity for the prurpose of sexual stimulation of a member of the audience, takes place before a live audience for the financial gain of the organiser or the entertainer.

A sex shop is a premises used for business which consists to a significant degree of selling sex articles.

A sex cinema is any premises used to a significant degree for showing of films which are concerned primarily with, or relate to, or are intended to stimulate sexual activity.

The law defines the way in which an application is made, which include advertising notice of the application in the local press and displaying a notice outside the premises for a specific time period to give passers by the opportunity to comment by a statutory closing date.

When considering an application for a sex establishment licence we may only use the following criteria:

  • the suitability of the applicant
  • whether the person applying is a "front" person for someone else
  • the location and situation of the premises in relation to other premises in the area
  • whether the number of sex establishments in that locality is equal to, or exceeds the number which the Council considers appropriate for the area

How do I apply for a sex establishment licence?

There is an application fee which must be paid at the time the application is made.

Your right of appeal

  • any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence or by any condition to which a licence is subject may appeal to the Magistrates' Court
  • an appeal against a decision made at the Magistrates Court may be appealed at the Crown Court but the decision of the Crown Court is final

Offences and penalties

  • anybody who operates a sex establishment without a licence or fails to comply with licence condition or admits persons under the age of 18 is committing an offence
  • penalties upon conviction can range from £1,000 to £20,000

Further information

Copies of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 can be purchased from the Office of Public Sector Information.

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