What action can officers take?
Officers will take into account the following when deciding on the most appropriate course of action:
- The seriousness of the offence;
- The past history of the offender;
- The confidence in management and the degree of wilfulness involved;
- The consequence of non-compliance
- The likely effectiveness of the various enforcement options;
- Mandatory/discretionary duties.
In most cases action taken by officers will be informal and will be:
- in the form of advice or a report left on site
- in the form of a letter detailing any recommendations, or
- a formal letter listing works which are required to be carried out in order to comply with the legislation, and separately listing any additional recommendations.
Where a serious breach of legislation is noted during an inspection, or where there is a risk to public health or safety, or where breaches of legislation exist and the history of the premises suggests that the work will not be completed without the need for formal action, a legal notice will usually be served. In the case of housing and food legislation, the formal notice may be preceded by service of a notice of intention which gives the recipient a chance to respond to the proposals before a formal notice is served.
Failure to comply with a legal notice will, other than in exceptional circumstances, result in prosecution and/or work in default.
Recipients of notices will always be informed in writing of their rights to appeal and these will normally be on the rear of the notice. They will also be informed in writing of the consequences of on-compliance.
In the minority of cases, where the following applies:
- there is a blatant disregard for the law such that there is a risk to public health, safety or well being or a serious attempt to defraud;
- there has been a failure to correct an identified serious problem despite being given a reasonable opportunity to do so;
- there has been a failure to comply with a legal notice;
- there has been a history of similar offences
- a formal caution or prosecution may be recommended. In deciding whether or not to prosecute for an alleged infringement regard will be had to 'The Code for Crown Prosecutors'.
A Formal Caution may be issued as an alternative to prosecution. In deciding which course of action is most appropriate, officers will have regard to the offender's attitude, state of health and previous history, the views of any aggrieved party and the nature and seriousness of the offence.
In the areas of food and trading standards, the Home Authority Principle set up by LACOTS shall be adhered to and in the area of health and safety the Lead Authority Principle shall be followed.