Departmental Prosecution Policy
This page sets out how Blackburn with Darwen Trading Standards Service undertakes its enforcement activities.The Policy was approved by the Council's Public Protection Committee on 30 March 1999
provide a framework within which enforcement actions and criminal
investigations can be controlled and monitored in order to ensure a
consistency of approach and decision-making and to facilitate the
formal legal process.
Service Enforcement Policy sets out the framework in which we seek to
use our regulatory powers to secure the above, and aims in particular
The Council and this Service takes its regulatory role seriously with a determination to operate fairly and firmly in appropriate cases.
The duty to comply with legal standards is placed upon the individuals or businesses concerned. Our prime role as regulators is to ensure compliance and our preferred method of doing so is by working together. Enforcement actions are a means of helping to secure appropriate standards, not an end in themselves.
We understand that the vast majority of persons wish to comply with those legal standards.
We recognise that our response to situations should be proportional to the physical and economic risk involved. Adequate opportunity should be given to rectify non-critical problems.
We have a role to play in influencing policy and legislation relevant to our fields of operation.
Subject to resource constraints, we welcome and encourage approaches for guidance and, in particular, development of relationships under the LACOTS `Home Authority Principle' designed to ensure that businesses can look to one Local Authority for guidance.
Any decision regarding enforcement action will be impartial and will not be affected by any views with regard to the race, politics, gender, sexual orientation or religious beliefs of any offender, victim or witness.
The Department recognises that current and retrospective enforcement procedures require consideration within the context of the Human Rights Act 1998, and this is reflected in consideration of our enforcement policies and guidance.
respond to all complaints and requests for service in priority order
set out in our annual Departmental Plan adopted by the Council.
audits and inspections are focused according to national standards
based on risk whenever possible. The Department has limited resources
and must strike a balance between the level of work and support
provided to individual businesses and cover of the whole community.
departmental structure helps to reduce the number of visits necessary
by combining activities whenever possible. However, multiple visits
cannot be avoided in some cases due to the need to respond to
complaints or requirements for special expertise.
provided by us distinguishes between legal requirements and advice
based on good practice.
take steps to ensure that our staff approach similar enforcement
We aim to influence and act within national and regional consistency agreements and subscribe fully to the LACOTS Home Authority Principle, the Cabinet Office's Enforcement Concordat and the principles of the Code of Conduct for Crown Prosecutors.
Consistent Enforcement Actions
Consistent enforcement action is desirable, but absolute uniformity would be unfair by failing to recognise individual circumstances that may aggravate or mitigate action to be taken.
We aim to achieve consistency by preparing our Officers engaged in enforcement activities to exercise a degree of discretion and make decisions within an overall framework. It is an important part of an officer's work to assess the level of investigation needed in a particular case. The likely action can often be assessed relatively early and thus influence the extent of the investigation. This provides clarity for business and efficiency for us.
All our investigations take account of relevant defences. We do not take formal enforcement action if we assess that a defence would be available. We also recognise the "De minimis" principle that we should not take prosecution action in the case of trifling infringements.
Whilst advice is appropriate in most problem situations, a significant number of serious incidents are revealed each year that demand stronger action, (e.g. sales of tobacco to children).
Assessing Appropriate Action in Cases of Infringement
guidance provides consistent starting points for action to be taken in
particular circumstances. Final action taken will depend on any
aggravating or mitigating factors present.
will normally only be considered where one or more of the following
Public Interest criteria are satisfied:
factors could include the examples below, but these should always be
balanced against the seriousness of the offence and the likelihood of
it being repeated
Enforcement Actions Available
of enforcement actions available to the Service are:-
Action - Other than collation of information for the purpose
of policing the situation in such a way that in time any of the
following actions require consideration. To be adopted where
infringements appear to be occurring but evidence is lacking at the
- The provision of advice on how to comply with the law. Both a routine
and ongoing initiative and particularly available to those local
traders who approach the Department.
Business Partnership - Working with the business community to
help them understand and comply with the law. To be adopted where there
is an opportunity to address businesses or a particular area of trade
as a whole.
letter - Written warning that a recurrence or continuation of
an infringement may result in legal action. For use where it is
considered by a Principal Officer that the warning letter is likely to
have the desired effect of a cessation of the activity and that the
matter is not a breach of legislation which would have serious
consequences for consumers.
notice - Legal powers exist which can require persons to take
remedial action or cease a particular course of conduct. In certain
extreme cases powers are available to close businesses and/or halt
processes. To be issued by Officers in the normal course of their
routine work as a means of achieving compliance with legislation, with
the exception of more serious breaches requiring the use of prohibition
or suspension notices which must be authorised by a Principal Officer.
Subsequent failure to comply could result in prosecution.
- Voluntary surrender of offending articles accompanied by
advice/warning in writing concerning the activity engaged in. To be
adopted where a Principal Officer is satisfied that this is an
appropriate course of action and will invariably be accompanied by
formal written caution.
Now Orders - The seeking of an Order under The Stop Now
Orders (E.C. Directive) Regulations 2001 for the cessation or
prohibition of Community infringements. For implementation only within
the restricted areas of activity identified in the Regulations and in
particular in relation to persistent activity.
Formal Caution - A specific form of warning following the guidelines in Home Office Circular 18/1994. These are used in situations where a prosecution could be instituted and the person liable admits the offence but there are strong mitigating circumstances.
- The prosecution of issues before the criminal courts. Depending on
the circumstances prosecutions may be taken without having undergone
any of the foregoing actions. Prosecutions are instigated only after
careful consideration of all the circumstances.
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Environment, Housing & Neighbourhood Dept, Public Protection Service, Davyfield Road Depot, Roman Road Industrial Estate, Blackburn, BB1 2LX