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Public Events FAQs

Do I need to inform the police of my event? 

Each Local Authority within the force area maintains a Safety Advisory Group, a multi-agency collective that discusses events.

This should be an event organiser's first port of call. Some of the Local Authorities will respond with generic advice and may publicise your event on their web pages.

The responsibility for safety at any event is primarily that of the event organiser - the police do not authorise an event taking place.

HSE advice on getting your event started

Can you stop me from having my event? 

In general the public perception is that the police are the lead agency for approving all public events, including those which take place on the public highway.  In reality the police have no authority to either approve or ban such events and in fact, police powers to regulate traffic for planned events are extremely limited.  Furthermore, the police have no general duty to preserve public safety at any public event, except where there are imminent to likely threats to life. 

Legal opinion suggests that the responsibility for public safety rests with the organisers of an event, the owners of the land on which it takes place and possibly the Local Authority if the event takes place on a road. However, other persons or agencies who undertake actions regarding public safety at an event may assume a duty of care and, therefore, also become responsible. 

In the past, the police service has taken the lead and undertaken actions to facilitate public events, acting for what they believed to be the public good.  However, with the emerging spectre of civil litigation, a more focused approach, confining police action to those issues which are part of our core responsibilities and where there is legal authority, is becoming necessary.  This situation is potentially damaging to many public events and the police may be seen as the 'villain of the piece' if situations are not handled with great sensitivity.  The public will not want to know why they cannot hold an event, but how they can proceed with police approval.

Where do I get cones from? 

The police no longer provide 'no waiting' cones. Please contact the County Council for further information.

Do I need a licence for my event? 


Who else do I need to tell? 

Your duties as an event organiser mean you are responsible for ensuring that overall safety at the event is maintained, so that as far as reasonably practicable, people setting up, breaking down and attending the event are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

HSE advice on managing an event

Will it cost me to have the police present if the event is for a registered charity? 

Even non-commercial events can attract a charge for policing services. As every event is different, they must be assessed on their own merits. To that end, Chief Officers and Police and Crime Commissioners have the discretion to waive or apply charges for policing services, dependent on various factors including the type/nature/purpose of the event. 

Further information regarding the charging for policing services can be found by clicking 

National guidance on charging for police services

Do I need to complete a risk assessment? 

Periodically, you should check your agreed methods for controlling risks and test them to make sure they are working and being followed. Your risk assessment[4] should set out the frequency of checks, who is responsible for them, and the methods they use.

For small-scale events, a simple checklist is probably enough.

For larger events, such as a festival, a number of people may share the monitoring role. Whoever has the role should be familiar with the risk assessment findings and control measures, and be able to identify new hazards and assess risks as they arise.

HSE managing health and safety

Will I need stewards/marshals or security for my event? 

HSE advice on health and safety topics

Providing entertainment

The following events do not need entertainment licences between the hours of 8am and 11pm:

  • performances of live unamplified music for audiences
  • performances of live amplified music in licensed premises for audiences of up to 200 people
  • performances of plays and dance for audiences of up to 500 people
  • indoor sporting events for audiences up to 1,000 people

Other examples of performances that generally don't need a licence are:

  • karaoke - between 8am and 11pm in licensed premises for audiences of 200 or less if there is any amplification
  • incidental music - live music that is incidental to other activities that aren't classed as regulated entertainment

GOV.UK also holds more detail on entertainment licensing.

If you are planning on playing pre-recorded music at an event that is open to the public, check with your venue to see if it holds licences from PRS (Performing Rights Society) for Music and PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited).

If your venue does not hold these licences you should check with those organisations whether a licence is required. A fee will likely be payable.

Can I play music at my event? 

HSE advice on music at events

Can I serve alcohol at my event? 

Government information on alcohol licensing

Will I need road closures and who grants these? 

HSE advice on transport

Can I have fireworks? 

HSE advice on fireworks licensing

HSE advice on organising a firework display

 Can I have a street party?

Government advice on organising a street party

Can I organise a rave? 

A Rave is defined as:

"A gathering on land in the open air of 20 or more persons, whether or not as trespassers,


A gathering of 20 or more persons on land (not being in the open air), as trespassers, 

at which amplified music is played during the night (with or without intermissions) and is such as, by reason of loudness and the duration and the time at which it is played, is likely to cause serious distress to the inhabitants of the locality."

Government information in relation to raves

Do I need insurance? 

Government information on event insurance

Is gambling allowed at my event? 

Gambling commission advice