Enforcement policy | Oxfordshire County Council

Enforcement policy

What you can expect from officers charged with ensuring compliance with various laws and regulations

This policy commits us to good enforcement policies and procedures and may be supplemented from time to time by additional statements of enforcement policy.

The primary function of enforcement work is to protect the public, the environment, consumers and others. At the same time, we endeavour to carry out enforcement functions in an equitable, practical and consistent manner to help promote a thriving national and local economy.

We are committed to these aims and to maintaining a fair and safe environment, and we recognise that most businesses and individuals want to comply with the law. We will take care to help businesses and others to meet their legal obligations without unnecessary expense, whilst taking firm action, including prosecution where appropriate, against those who flout the law or act irresponsibly.

We have adopted the Concordat on Good Enforcement agreed between central and local government, adhere to the Statutory Code of Practice for Regulators and committed to complying with the following standards:

Standards

We will publish our standards and make them available to businesses and others who are regulated.

Openness

We will provide information and advice in plain language and will be open about how we set about our work. We will discuss general issues, specific compliance failures or problems with anyone experiencing difficulties.

Helpfulness

We believe prevention is better than cure and therefore encourage businesses and others to seek advice from us to assist with compliance.

Complaints about service

We provide a well-publicised, effective and timely complaints procedure.

Proportionality

We will minimise the costs of compliance by ensuring that any action we require is proportionate to the risks. As far as the law allows, we will take account of the individual circumstances of each case when considering action.

Consistency

We will carry out our duties in a fair, equitable and consistent manner. Whilst officers are expected to exercise judgement in individual cases, we have arrangements in place to promote consistency, including effective liaison arrangements with other authorities and enforcement agencies who may have a shared enforcement role. All investigations are undertaken in accordance with legal requirements and where appropriate, government guidelines.

Infringement policy

Actions undertaken range from providing advice, information and education to issuing oral, written and formal cautions and prosecution. In addition action may include other sanctions (eg issuing enforcement, stop, correction or prohibition notices, the seeking of injunctions, the seizure or suspension of goods and activities or action through licensing or registration processes). Recovery of the proceeds of crime or compensation may be sought where appropriate.

A decision on any particular infringement will be taken in accordance with this enforcement policy.

Prosecution and Civil Action policy

The decision to prosecute or take civil action is a serious step and has implications for the defendant, organisation, witnesses and the public. We comply with the Code for Crown Prosecutors so we can make fair and consistent decisions about prosecutions. There are two stages to the Code, 'the evidential test' and the 'public interest test'.

Stage 1 - The evidential test

There must be sufficient admissible evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each defendant on each charge. The defence case, including any available statutory defence, must be considered including how it is likely to affect the prosecution case. If, and only if, the case passes Stage 1 (the evidential test) must the prosecutor apply Stage 2 (the public interest test).

Stage 2 - The public interest test

The prosecutor must consider factors for and against prosecution, decide how important each factor is in the circumstances of each case and then make an overall assessment of whether the prosecution is in the public interest, any other enforcement codes of practice must also be considered.

Right to a fair trial

Whilst immediate actions may need to be taken in certain circumstances to protect others, everyone who is charged with a criminal offence is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time and shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

Powers of entry

The Home Office has produced a Code of Practice which provides guidance that apply to the exercise of powers of entry by regulators including the need to minimise disruption to business and encourage consistency.

Last reviewed
04 January 2017
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