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AAIAC Update

May 2017


The AAIAC memberships was refreshed in January this year with Ben Longhurst, Adrian Clarke and Paul Airey joining Mike Rosser (Chair). Tom Partridge (Vice-Chair), Paul Kenwright (Treasurer), Kevin Jackson, Jethro Moore, Richard Hamilton, Matt Healey. Observers Paul Donovan, John Cousins.

All members have a 3-year term renewable for another three years. In March 2018, the terms of 3 members will end. The recruitment process for their replacement will begin in the autumn of this year.


AAIAC has a new website managed by Tom Partridge

HSE AALA Licensing Review

The HSE Review of AALA Licensing continues to progress with involvement from all areas of the industry. As well as the on-line survey HSE held 3 open meetings in Cardiff, Glasgow and Birmingham with sector representatives.

A group from across the sector as met with or taken part in part in a phone conference on 2 occasions and met as a group once. This group from all parts of the UK comprises:

Adrian Clark – member of Outdoor Education Advisers Panel & Adventure Activity Industry Advisory Committee

John Cousins Chief Executive, Mountain Training UK

Paul Donovan Chair of Wales Activity Tourism Organisation

Louise Edwards Chair of Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres

John Hamilton Chair of Scottish Adventure Activity Forum

Matt Healy member of British Activity Providers Association & AAIAC

Dave Horrocks member of SAAF & Scottish Advisors Panel for Outdoor Education

Craig McCullough member of Adventure Industry NI

Steve Morgan Head of Sport Wales National Outdoor Centre, Plas Menai.

Mike Rosser Chair of AAIAC

Andy Robinson Chief Executive of Institute for Outdoor Learning

Martin Smith Chair of English Outdoor Council

Catherine Williams – Operations Manager of Snowdonia Active/WATO

At its first meeting in Manchester on 24 March the group agreed the following:

The industry, working through a group (see note 5) of representative bodies and individual experts, is committed to working with the HSE to develop a consistent and improved approach to adventure activity licensing in the 4 home nations. The group recognises that this is a process that requires a long term commitment to working together and is prepared to provide the expertise and industry support for the HSE.

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Terminology notes

  1. The industry (a.k.a. The Sector) – those who provide adventure activities, advise on adventure activities, NGBs (do we want to include participants and parents – I think not)
  2. The Scheme – the system(s) for accrediting adventure activity providers that results from the current Review.
  3. The Review – The totality of the current process being undertaken by HSE
  4. Stakeholders – Those with an interest in the accreditation of adventure activities (includes those at 1 above and also: parents, teachers, participants, elected representatives etc.)
  5. The Group – This group that is meeting and collaborating, on behalf of the industry, to try to determine if there is enough common ground for an industry wide response to HSE.

Some of the group took part in a phone conference with HSE to discuss some of the above. One key point of clarification was that of what is meant by Statutory and non-statutory and implications

Statutory means that something is required by law. It is currently a criminal offence to provide defined adventure activities to children under the age of 18 without a licence. Anyone caught doing so could be prosecuted and, if found guilty, they could be fined or imprisoned. (This has never happened).

A non-statutory scheme would mean that there was no criminal act associated with not having a licence. It would be voluntary to take part in the scheme.

This does not mean that businesses would not need to abide by Health and Safety legislation, which is statutory and therefore compulsory. Anyone operating a business must ensure the safety of their workers AND any non-workers (in this case children) affected by their work activity. The only difference is that there would be no legal duty to hold a licence.

If a non-statutory scheme were to be introduced, its success would rely on service-users demanding that the business has ‘approval’ as a condition of doing business with them. In other words the system would be market led. Demand for approved centres would outstrip demand for those who opted out.

HSE could support a non-statutory scheme in two ways, i.e. by recommending:

a) that providers obtain approval as a way of demonstrating that they are complying with the Management of Health and safety at Work Regulations 1999, and

b) that service users demand that the service is approved, as a way of demonstrating ‘due diligence’; in selecting an appropriate place to take the children, in compliance with Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

If HSE were to stop being the AALA, and it was assigned to an industry group, the legislation would still be intact. There would still be a legal obligation to hold a licence, so HSE support would not be necessary.

The legislation as it stands cannot support the following:

  1. The inclusion of any criteria outside of health and safety. Quality could not be included in a statutory scheme because the law does not require it.
  2. Cross border arrangements with Northern Ireland. This is because the current legislation does not apply in NI.

Survey Feedback

The full results of the HSE Survey will be released later this month in the form of an on-line webinar. HSE have shared some of its initial results with us. Key were

  1. A majority of respondents (57%) would like to see the licence include an assessment of quality as well as safety. According to text comments, there is demand for a streamlined system i.e. one that provides accreditation based on a range of criteria, rather than safety alone.
  2. A cross-border system (entire GB and UK) is very important to respondents, with over 80% favouring this.
  3. A small majority (53%) believe that fewer designated organisations should be exempt from licensing.
  4. 60% believe that the range of activities that require a licence should be extended

None of the above could be archived through a statutory scheme. HSE have extended TQS’s contract to manage the licensing process for another two years. They have made a recommendation to their Management Board that they should work with the outdoor sector in this 2-year period to investigate whether it can agree an Industry Led scheme to be indorsed by HSE to replace the current AALA one.

Once we know the results from the HSE Board meeting and the full survey results the Industry Group will be able to move forward and put proposals together. Key to this will be to ensure that the group engage full with all sectors of the outdoor industry, its representative groups and individual Providers.

The group will next meet in Cardiff on Friday 9 June.

Next AAIAC Meeting

Tuesday 27 June 2017