Sex establishment licences

A sex shop is anywhere used for a business that consists to a significant degree of selling, hiring, exchanging, lending, displaying or demonstrating sex-related articles.   

Section 27 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009 allows a licensing authority to regulate sexual entertainment venues where “relevant entertainment” is provided before a live audience for the financial gain of the organiser or entertainer. “Relevant entertainment” means any live performance or any live display of nudity. It is a requirement that, in areas where the amended Schedule 3 of the 1982 Act has effect, no person shall use any premises, vehicle, vessel or stall as a sex establishment, including a sexual entertainment venue, without a licence. Any person who knowingly contravenes this requirement shall be guilty of an offence.

Applications for grant, renewal or transfer of a licence must be made in writing to the council and must comply with the procedural requirements set out in the 1982 Act. An application for a licence may be refused by the council on any of the grounds set out in paragraph 12 of Schedule 3 to the 1982 Act. Before refusing an application the council must give the applicant an opportunity to appear and be heard by the relevant committee of the council. If the council refuses an application it must give the applicant written reasons for the decision.    

Licences generally remain in force for 12 months but the council may specify a shorter period, as it may think fit. Applicants for the grant, variation, renewal or transfer of a licence shall pay a reasonable fee to the council. The council may prescribe standard conditions applicable to sex establishment licences.


The fee for the application for a licence or renewal, transfer or variation of an application for 2016-2017 is £6500

For further information contact Licensing.

Background information

On 1 March 1983 the powers contained in Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (licensing of sex establishments) came into effect in the Vale of White Horse District Council area.(“the relevant area”)

On 23 February 2011 Vale of White Horse District Council  (“the licensing authority”) resolved to adopt the amendments to Schedule 3 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (“the 1982 Act”) made by section 27 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009 concerning the licensing of “sexual entertainment venues”.

Last reviewed: 21 - 08 - 2018

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