Working hard to keep the public safe
At first glance, it would seem that the council’s role in Public Protection was simple – make sure that rules put in place to protect public safety are understood and come down hard on those that break them.
A heavy-handed approach to enforcing regulations might look like the easiest way to protect the public. But the council is also here to help and support local businesses and economic growth.
The need to be balanced, transparent and proportionate becomes clear once you understand the range of businesses and services for which the Public Protection Team are responsible.
They include the regulation of: gambling, contaminated land, food safety, animal welfare and zoo licensing, alcohol sales and the night-time economy, health and safety at work, taxi licensing, tattooing and piercing, and charitable collections. And that’s just to name a few.
Taking a tough line on enforcement could be unnecessarily burdensome or unfair to those who work hard to build businesses and offer good quality services. It could also create an environment which places obstacles in the way of the entrepreneurs and innovators that can help build our economy.
When businesses or individuals cannot – or will not – comply with regulations, our ultimate sanction is enforcement action.
Effective public protection needs to ensure consumer confidence, while allowing customers to make informed choices (as the National food hygiene ratings scheme does).
Our approach then, has to be fair and balanced.
One of the recent innovations the council has introduced has been establishing Environment Health Training & Consultancy (EHT&C), an organisation dedicated to providing businesses with training, coaching, advice and consultancy on public protection regulations.
We combine this advisory and educational role with a supportive approach, building relationships with businesses to ensure they meet the necessary requirements.
Our officers carry out up to 20 visits per day around the district, in addition to the significant number of enquiries, background checks, and applications.
However, protecting the public must always be our first priority.
The majority of businesses work with us to provide good services and keep people safe. But when businesses or individuals cannot – or will not – comply with regulations, our ultimate sanction is enforcement action.
The council’s recent successful prosecutions for breaches of Health and Safety at Work regulations have shown that we will act against businesses that put the public or their employees at risk.
This even-handed approach ensures a high level of public protection and safety, while supporting and growing the local economy.