Environmental Health enforcement policy
We will take account of both national priorities for local government enforcement together with local priorities based on evidence or emerging need. We will focus enforcement towards matters with the greatest risk to public health, safety, animal health, the economic or environmental well being of the community, those where we believe there is an expectation from our residents, businesses or elected members that action should be taken, or to our other stated priorities including those set out in our council plan. Focused enforcement means making sure that regulatory effort is directed primarily towards those whose activities give rise to the most serious risk or where the risks are less well controlled. Action will be primarily focused on those directly responsible for the risk and who are best placed to control it.
The services prioritise regulatory effort. Factors include:
- response to complaints from the public
- the existence of statutory powers and the assessment of risk (e.g. the potential for a particular breach of regulations to cause environmental damage or damage people's health and safety)
Management actions are important in the assessment of risk. Repeated incidents or breaches of regulatory requirements, which are related, may be an indication of an unwillingness to change behaviour, or an inability to achieve sufficient control. A relatively low hazard site or activity poorly managed has potential for greater risk than a higher hazard site or activity where proper control measures are in place.
Where formal enforcement action is necessary the person responsible should be held to account. Where several persons share responsibility, we will take action against those who can be regarded as primarily in breach.
- aim to change the behaviour of the offender
- aim to eliminate any financial gain or benefit from non-compliance
- be responsive and consider what is appropriate for the particular offender and regulatory issue, which can include punishment and the public stigma that should be associated with a criminal conviction
- be proportionate to the nature of the offence and the harm caused
- aim to restore or redress the harm caused by regulatory non-compliance, where appropriate
- aim to deter future non-compliance
Fairness, consistency, accountability and transparency
Whilst responsibility for compliance with legislation falls to businesses or individuals, we will provide relevant advice and guidance. We will advise businesses and individuals of relevant requirements by publicity, use of our website, signage and information leaflets as necessary. Where direct contact is made, our officers will identify themselves by name, and a contact telephone number will be provided. We will take account of the circumstances of small regulated businesses or individuals, including any difficulties they may have in achieving compliance.
We will provide appropriate advice or signposting, where we can, in response to requests. Our officers will consider statutory codes of practice and other relevant 'good practice' guidelines or standards as well as current legislation. Where appropriate, officers will highlight forthcoming legal developments.
We will maintain systems designed to ensure, so far as practicable, that enforcement activities are carried out to a consistent standard and will monitor compliance with our enforcement policy. Our officers will continue to work with colleagues in other authorities to seek to ensure consistency and continuous learning.
Unless immediate action is required to prevent or respond to a serious breach, or where to do so is likely to defeat the purpose of the proposed enforcement action, when considering formal enforcement action, we will normally discuss the circumstances with those suspected of a breach and take into account their views when deciding on the best approach.
Any applicable rights of appeal against enforcement decisions will be made known to affected persons or organisations at the time and in writing. Officers will clearly distinguish between requirements to comply with legal obligations and other recommendations.
Our comments, compliments and complaints policy sets out how to complain, express dissatisfaction, comment or compliment the services we provide.
Reduction of burden on business
We recognise that dealing with regulations has a cost to business. We also recognise that businesses wish there to be a level playing field. We will seek to ensure that interventions in businesses are kept to a minimum by:
- ensuring that we join up across the authority and with other agencies
- utilising national schemes such as primary authority
- focusing our enforcement as detailed in this policy
Involvement of businesses
We welcome comments from businesses, residents and the public regarding our approach to enforcement. We believe that they have valuable insight that we should take into account when deciding the approach we take. We welcome feedback on the work that we do and comments on our enforcement policy and service standards. These can be made through our comments, compliments and complaints policy.
We believe that part of our role is to help businesses comply with the law. We will therefore, where possible, provide training, information and advice.
As part of our commitment to delivering high quality services, we continuously seek to understand the needs of those who live, work, invest in, or visit the borough and respond to those needs appropriately in either a proactive or reactive way. We aim to be a council you can trust, delivering good quality efficient services.
We are committed to communicating with customers (that is businesses, residents and visitors to the borough) in the most appropriate form.
When revising current or setting new policies or controls we ensure that our proposals are based on sound evidence.
Where we reasonably can, we make provision for the particular needs and interests of consumers, business owners, employers and the general public.