The government is being urged to introduce a legal requirement for all child modelling agencies to be licensed before they are allowed to operate.
It follows claims that some agencies currently operating in the UK are ignoring regulations and putting children at risk by not requiring staff to have criminal record checks.
Equity has called for more regulation in the sector, while casting and talent agent Fiona Cross told The Stage that she is attempting to raise it with government.
She said: “As a parent and agent, I asked myself why isn’t there a legal requirement and system in place for agencies to be checked and vetted before they are allowed to operate.
“Then I realised I might be in the best position to approach the subject to the government, and I could sit there and wonder why nothing was being done, or do something.”
Cross raised the issue with her MP, Stephen Hammond, who confirmed that he had taken it to the parliamentary under secretary of state for children and families.
#ThereShouldBeALaw for child modelling agencies to be licensed and all agents background checked before they are allowed to operate… In fact I’ve been in touch with @10DowningStreet via @S_Hammond about this and waiting for an answer…
— Fiona Cross (@FionaCrossUK) January 22, 2020
Cross added: “I’d like to see something like a license or registration process, something with recognisable and visible proof that the agents working at the agency are DBS checked.
“Some of the agencies I worked with in the past did not have the DBS as a requirement for employment, which is appalling when working with children.”
At present, anyone wishing to use a paid child model below school age must obtain a licence from their local authority, however the organisation requesting the photoshoot is required to do this as opposed to the agency.
Currently, all agencies are bound by the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003, which sets out minimum standards for agencies in the UK, but there is no requirement for either child or adult modelling agencies to be licensed.
Assistant general secretary at Equity, Matt Hood said: “Equity believes all entertainment agencies should be licensed and properly regulated.
“Unfortunately, we see current agency regulations ignored and repeatedly set to one side by some agencies that deliberately break the law. We will continue to represent our members and litigate against agencies that do not abide by the regulations.”
He added: “We continue to challenge the Employment Agencies Standards Inspectorate to use its current powers to protect our members and Equity regularly lobbies government to strengthen the regulation of entertainment agencies.”