We want the people of Hackney to live and work in safety and good health. Our services aim to achieve this by delivering a clean, safe and attractive environment. The heart of this work will be the fair, efficient and transparent use of our regulatory powers.
We also recognise the importance of making Hackney a place, which is attractive to businesses and other employers. In order to help businesses flourish, we recognise that they should have access to simple guidance about legislation, which regulates the way in which they operate. To achieve this, in accordance with the Government's Enforcement Concordat, we have detailed here the principles by which enforcement officers will carry out their work.
You should also be able to complain without fear if you are unhappy about the way a regulation has been enforced and the Council has a clear complaints policy access to which is through the Division's Services Officer who will provide you help and advice.
Statutory powers and duties
We have statutory powers and duties to protect the public from:
- Unlawful and unscrupulous traders
- Unsafe and unhygienic products (including food) and trade practices
And to promote a clean and healthy environment through:
- Recording and investigating communicable diseases and work accidents
We have a diverse range of users including Hackney residents, businesses and internal and external commissioning departments.
Enforcing the law, protecting the community
Enforcement actions are taken within the context of a legal and policy framework. Hackney has adopted the Enforcement Concordat produced by the Government's Better Regulation Unit, which lays out the principles of good enforcement. These are:
- To draw up clear standards, setting out the level of service and performance the public and business can expect to receive.
- To deal with the public and business in an open an honest way.
- To provide a courteous, efficient and helpful service.
- To respond promptly and positively to complaints about the service.
- To ensure that enforcement action is proportionate to the risk.
- To carry out our duties in a fair, equitable and consistent manner.
DTI along with the Small Business Service (SBS) and the Cabinet Office is involved in the government's work to ensure effective enforcement of all regulations.
The Enforcement Concordat was signed in 1998 by local and national enforcers. To date over 96% of all central and local government organisations with an enforcement function have adopted the Enforcement Concordat
The Concordat articulates the Principles of Good Enforcement that help businesses to comply with regulations, and help enforcers to achieve higher levels of voluntary compliance.
The Principles are:
- Standards: setting clear standards
- Openness: clear and open provision of information
- Helpfulness: helping business by advising on and assisting with compliance
- Complaints: having a clear complaints procedure
- Proportionality: ensuring that enforcement action is proportionate to the risks involved
- Consistency: ensuring consistent enforcement practice.
The net result is good enforcement that benefits consumers, employees and businesses.
Enforcement Concordat Good Practice Guide
The Good Practice Guide uses case studies to give enforcers a range of options for putting the Enforcement Concordat into practice. These are real life examples of how enforcers have made the Concordat's principles work. For example: innovative ideas on how business can get information about regulatory requirements; how to use technology for smart compliance, and; using partnerships to improve business - enforcer relationships.
Where a decision to prosecute is made, this decision will be taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which details the considerations to be taken into account when bringing proceedings.
Enforcement decisions and actions will also be made with due regard to the provisions of;
- The Human Rights Act 1998
- The Crime and Disorder Act 1998
- Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996
- Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
- The Criminal Procedure Rules 2005
- Equal rights and anti-discrimination legislation.
In the public interest, matters concerning non-compliance will be shared, where appropriate, with other enforcement agencies. Where this takes place, due regard will be paid to the provisions of the Data Protection Act.
Authorisation of Officers
Only officers who are competent by training, qualification and/or experience will be authorised to take enforcement action. The work of all staff is subject to supervision by their line managers. Officers will also have sufficient training and understanding of this enforcement policy to ensure a consistent approach to their duties. Officers are required to show their authorisations on demand.
Enforcement services of the council are required to carry out their duties, including enforcement actions, in accordance with set procedures. These procedures vary depending on the service area involved and are summarised under their particular heading.
The Service uses a range of activities to ensure compliance with legislation. Many of the enforcement services carry out inspections of premises on a routine, programmed basis and these inspection programmes meet any statutory, official or professional guidance available. Visits are also made as a response to complaints and enquiries from the public. Where non-compliance is discovered, options to ensure future compliance include:
- giving verbal advice on the law and the means to ensure compliance;
- consideration of reasonable timescales to achieve compliance;
- service of advisory and warning letters, informal and formal cautions, statutory notices or prohibitions detailing non-compliance;
- enforcement actions including seizure of documents or goods, closure of premises, works in default, prosecution or injunction;
- refusal of a licence application or revocation of a licence.
The Council will also take all reasonable steps to recover debts resulting from the institution of enforcement actions and will publicise successful actions to inform and deter relevant parties.
Formal Enforcement Actions
The decision to use formal enforcement actions will depend on the severity of the non-compliance. Factors that will be taken into consideration include:
- the risk that the non-compliance poses to the safety, health or economic welfare of the public at large or to individuals;
- evidence that suggests that there was pre-meditation in the commission of an offence;
- the alleged offence involves a failure to comply in full or in part with the requirements of a statutory notice or order;
- there is a history of previous warnings or the commission of similar offences;
- aggravated circumstances such as obstruction of an officer or aggressive or discriminatory behaviour towards the public.
How we deal with complaints
If you have a complaint about our services then we have an opportunity to listen and learn, to put things right and to improve the quality of those services. If you have a complaint, please contact us using the contact details on the right.
If you have not received a satisfactory response from the officers involved, please view our complaints procedure.
What we do
We cover a range of food health and safety issues and enforce legislation covering:
- Food hygiene, labelling and standards,
- Occupational health and safety,
- Infectious disease control, and
- Pests and rubbish associated with commercial premises.
We inspect food businesses and workplaces, take food samples and investigate complaints regarding commercial activities in Hackney under legislation relating to those areas detailed above. We also advise businesses, consumers and employees of their legal obligations and rights. We also seek to minimise the transmission of communicable and infectious diseases particularly food poisoning.
Enforcement in Environmental Health (Commercial)
We believe that prevention is better than cure and so we actively work with business, to advise on and help with compliance. To this end we will respond to requests from business for advice and we will visit businesses proactively as part of our inspection programme.
All food law enforcement will be carried out in accordance with the relevant Food Standards Authority (FSA) Codes of Practice.
All Health and Safety enforcement work will have regard to Health and Safety Commission guidance and HELA Local Authorities on consistency of enforcement between local authorities and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Environmental Health enforcement will follow the general principles but in addition:
Prosecution of individuals
We will normally not consider prosecuting an individual where their own negligence has caused only self-inflicted injury and does not present a risk to others. Where their negligent actions harm or create a risk of harm, to an innocent party, then we will have regard to the factors identified in this Enforcement Policy.
Manslaughter and health and safety
When investigating fatalities where there may be the possibility of manslaughter, we will liase closely with the Police, Coroner and Crown Prosecution Service. We will have regard to any memorandum of understanding between HSE, local authorities, Police and Crown Prosecution Service.
This will be considered where there is a serious risk of harm to health or personal injury from premises or practices.
This option will be used to seize or detain food, goods or equipment where necessary to protect the public health and safety.
Works in Default
We will use this option to secure compliance with the requirements of formal notices where the necessary works have not been carried out in the time allowed without good reason. Before doing the works ourselves we will consider whether there is a realistic prospect the person responsible will complete the works within a reasonable timescale.
Where we carry out the works in default, we will seek to recover all our costs over a fair period, using all the statutory means available. Failure to comply with some notices allows us to consider prosecuting as well as doing the works in default. We will normally do this only where the conduct of the recipient justifies taking both steps. We will have regard to factors such as the giving of false information, the obstruction of Council staff and the harm or risk of harm caused by the recipient's delay.
We will provide a polite and efficient service and our staff will identify themselves by name. We will provide a contact point and telephone number for further contact with us.
While we expect officers to exercise judgements in individual cases we have arrangements in place to promote consistency. These include liaison meetings with other authorities and enforcement bodies, such as LACORS and HELA. We also subscribe to EHCNet which enables national liaison and co-ordination of environmental health work.
Home/Lead Authority Principle
This principle applies in food and health and safety work to ensure that multiple outlet businesses are treated consistently by local authorities. This has advantages for officers and the company:
- there is clear and easy access to advice;
- the company is not contacted by local authorities from all over the country but only by the Home/Lead Authority officer. The results of the officer's investigation can then be relayed to other local authorities via a computer link.
- complaints and queries from all local authorities may be channelled effectively through the company contact and dealt with more quickly.
We will always liase with the Home/Lead Authority before taking formal enforcement action, unless action has to be taken immediately to control an imminent risk.
Page updated: 15 Sep 2011