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Challenge 25 Policies for Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

The majority of music festivals in the UK are for the over 18s because of the wide availability of alcohol and the additional requirements needed for providing safety for children. Many organisers operate the Challenge 25 scheme to prevent underage festival-goers entering the site but how can this policy be implemented. 

One of the key requirements when applying for an event licence in the UK is a requirement that organisers make provisions for the protection of children from harm. By making the event available for over 18’s the only requirement for organisers will be to demonstrate how they will prevent children from entering the festival site. The Challenge 25 scheme helps to implement this.

What is the Challenge 25 Scheme.
A collaboration between the UK government and the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group (RASG) established the need to clarify age when purchasing alcohol. The Challenge 25 scheme was introduced in 2005 and gives staff serving alcohol a buffer zone, should they not be able to accurately guess the age of a customer. It’s a retailing strategy that encourages anyone who is over 18 but looks under 25 to carry acceptable ID (a card bearing the PASS hologram, a photographic driving license or a passport) if they wish to buy alcohol. The scheme can easily be adopted for music festival site entrances where alcohol is widely available and the event is strictly for those over 18.

Written Policy Documentation. 
Any festival organiser that wants to use the Challenge 25 scheme should complete a policy document that incorporates training requirements and procedures for security staff and on-site vendors. Any policy should also be publicised on the festival's website and especially in relation to any wording linked to ticket sales. The policy should clearly state exactly what identification is acceptable and may include: 

  • An in-date photographic driver’s licence or provisional licence.
  • A valid passport (not a photocopy) out of date passports will not be accepted.
  • A proof of age standards scheme card (showing the pass hologram).
  • An in-date armed forces photo id card.
  • A national photo identity card issued by country of origin (other than the United Kingdom) 

Training and Implementation. 
All volunteers and security staff will need to be aware that the festival is operating a Challenge 25 policy. They should fully understand the acceptable identification documentation required and what process to follow should someone not be able to provide ID if they are challenged. This may involve specified escalation procedures should there be any disagreement. In addition to on-site staff the implementation of any Challenge 25 policy should be agreed with vendors that are selling alcohol. This acts as a back-up should someone looking younger that 18 legitimately or not gain access to a site and attempt to purchase alcohol.

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Photo by
Dom J via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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