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Sex establishment licences

If you wish to run a 'sex establishment' in Dacorum, you must be licensed by us, in accordance with the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, as modified by the Policing and Crime Act 2009.

Three types of sex establishment are defined under the Act:

  • Sex shops, which are used for selling, hiring, displaying or demonstrating sex articles or publications, including R18-certificate videos and DVDs, and other items used in connection with sexual activity or associated acts of restraint.
  • Sex cinemas, which are allowed to show R18-rated adult films to audiences (ordinary cinemas cannot show these films).
  • Sexual entertainment venues, which provide live entertainment involving nudity or sexually-stimulating performances for an audience consisting of one or more people, for the financial gain of either the performer(s) or organiser.

Sexual entertainment can be lawfully provided at unlicensed venues on no more than 11 occasions per year, providing that there is at least one calendar month between events. To hold events more frequently than this, a licence must be obtained.

We decided to adopt this legislation so as to regulate these businesses locally, originally in 1984 for sex shops, and in 2011 we extended this to include sexual entertainment venues.

Sex establishment licensing policy

Our sex establishment licensing policy sets out how we will consider applications, and our expectations of licence holders.

 Sex establishment licensing policy 2017-2022 (PDF 1.6MB)

Apply for a licence

You can apply for a sex establishment licence online, or by printing and completing our application form. Applicants must be 18 years of age or over, and must have been resident in a European Economic Area state for the previous six months (or in the case of a company applicant, be incorporated in an EEA state).

 Sex establishment licence - application form (PDF 470KB)

Fees for grants, renewals, variations and transfers of sex establishment licences can be found on our licensing fees and charges page.

Determining applications

Applicants must give public notice of their application once it has been submitted, by displaying a notice on the exterior of the premises for at least 21 days, and also by publishing a notice in a local newspaper within seven days of submitting the application. Templates for both of these notices are included in the PDF application form, above. A copy of the application must also be sent to the police (unless applying online).

Objections to applications for licences may be made by any person affected by the proposed business, within 28 days of the submission of the application. Objections must be made in writing, and will be considered by us when the application is determined. If the application is considered at a Committee hearing, all persons who have made valid objections will be invited to attend and address the hearing.

We must refuse applications if the applicant:

  • is under 18,
  • has not been resident in an EEA state for the previous six months (or in the case of a company applicant, is not incorporated in an EEA state),
  • has been refused a licence for the same site/structure in the past 12 months, or
  • has had a sex establishment licence revoked in Dacorum within the past 12 months.

We may also decide to refuse applications if we believe that:

  • the applicant is unsuitable to hold a licence for any reason (for example, if they have previous, relevant convictions, or a history of non-compliance with licensing requirements),
  • the business would be managed by or for the benefit of someone who would be refused a licence in their own right,
  • where we have set a limit on the number of sex establishments we think are appropriate in a particular area, if granting the application would cause that limit to be exceeded, or
  • if it would be inappropriate for us to grant the application, given the character of the locality, the use of other nearby premises, or the character, condition or layout of the site in question.

Our sex establishment licensing policy, above, gives further details about how we will consider these matters. In particular, we have set 'nil' limits on the number on sex establishments we consider appropriate in the following localities:

  • Hemel Hempstead Old Town
  • Berkhamsted town centre
  • Tring town centre

If we have any concerns about an application, we will give notice of this, and allow you the opportunity to make representations at a hearing before a final decision is made. If your application is refused, or granted subject to conditions, you will have a right of appeal to a magistrates' court.

If we decide to grant an application, we will issue a licence for one year. All licences are subject to standard conditions, as set out in our policy, plus any specific conditions we believe are necessary.

Can I start trading before my application is determined?

Trading during the application period is not permitted. We will aim to deal with all applications within two months, and if you have not received a decision by the end of this period you will be able to act as if a licence has been granted.

The period will begin upon the receipt of a full and valid application, and tacit consent will not apply if we have notified you of any issues with your application.

Maintaining a licence

If a licence is granted, the holder may carry on the permitted activities at the premises, vehicle, vessel or stall authorised for a period of one year. The licence must be renewed towards the end of this period if it is intended to continue providing the activities. Renewal applications must be made before the licence expires, otherwise any entitlement to provide the specified activities will be lost.

If ownership of the sex establishment changes, an application must be made to transfer the licence.

We must be notified of any other material changes to the business, premises or structure. If the applicant is seeking a change to the terms, conditions or restrictions of the licence as a result, an application to vary the licence must be made.

At any time during the validity of a licence, we may decide to revoke it if the licence holder would no longer be eligible to be granted a licence, or if they are considered to be unsuitable to hold a licence for any reason, or if another person who would not be entitled to a licence is managing or benefiting from the operation of a sex establishment.

Anybody operating a premises, vehicle, vessel or stall as a sex establishment without a licence, or in breach of licence conditions, commits a criminal offence, and if convicted may be given an unlimited fine.

No person under 18 years of age may be permitted to enter a licensed sex establishment, nor employed at a sex establishment.

Licensed sex establishments

The following premises in Dacorum are licensed for use as sex establishments:

  • Junction 9, London Road, Flamstead, AL3 8HG (sexual entertainment venue)
  • Private Shop, 193 London Road, Apsley, HP3 9SE (sex shop)

Comments and complaints

If you have any comments or complaints about the way a sex establishment in Dacorum is run, we would advise that you first contact the business directly. The best way to do this is by sending a letter with proof of delivery.

If that has not worked, the Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to provide assistance (or the UK European Consumer Centre, if you are outside the UK).

If you believe that a sex establishment is trading in Dacorum without a licence, or is breaching its licence, please contact us with the details and we will investigate.

Contact us

For more information on sex establishment licences, please contact us:

Email: licensing@dacorum.gov.uk
Telephone: 01442 228470 or 228860