East Devon District Council

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Policy Environmental Health Enforcement Policy

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7. Principles of enforcement - proportionality

7.1.1         In general, the concept of proportionality is included in much of the regulatory system through the balance of action to protect the employee or the public against risks and costs.  Achieving proportionality requires that the enforcement action taken is directly related to the risks involved.

 7.1.2         Some duties are specific and absolute whereas others require action ‘so far as is reasonably practicable'. Whilst deciding what is reasonably practicable to control risks requires the exercise of judgement, in the final analysis it is the Courts that determine what is reasonably practicable, in the circumstances of each particular case.  Where risks must be controlled so far as reasonably practicable, regard will be had to the protection measures necessary to comply, the degree of risk involved and the cost, whether in money, time or trouble involved in averting the risk. 

                 We will consider the impact that our regulatory interventions may have on economic progress, including, the consideration of costs, the effectiveness of intervention and the perception of the fairness of such regulation. We will only adopt a particular approach if the benefits justify the costs and it entails the minimum burden compatible with achieving our objectives. We will use reasonable endeavours to ensure that the burden of interventions on small businesses in particular and on voluntary or community groups and the public fall fairly and proportionately on such entities by giving consideration to the size and nature of that entity. However unless it is shown that there is a gross disproportion between these factors and that the risk is insignificant in relation to the cost, measures will be taken and costs incurred to reduce the risk.

 7.1.3         Some incidents or breaches of regulatory requirements cause or have the potential to cause serious damage to health or to the environment.  Others may interfere with people's enjoyment or rights, or the Service’s ability to carry out its enforcement activities.  The Environmental Health & Health Equalities Service’s first response will be to prevent harm from occurring or continuing. When considering issues of non-compliance we will have regard to past compliance records and potential future risks; the existence of good systems for managing risks; evidence of recognized external accreditation; the competence of management and the willingness to comply.