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HSE Review into HSE's Conduct of Prosecutions 2000

In December 2000, the HSE set up a prosecution review, reporting to the Deputy Director General, David Eves to consider:

"how best to strengthen HSE’s capability for conducting prosecutions for health and safety law in England and Wales".

The review team was headed by Jennifer Terry, Solicitor’s Office, and included Marcia Davies and Susan Mackenzie, Field Operations Directorate (FOD), and Steve Coldrick and Caroline Wake, Operations Unit".

In summary the report concluded that:

The system makes it difficult to demonstrate independence in the decision to prosecute as there is insufficient separation of the investigation and prosecution function;
There is no independent audit or oversight of prosecution decisions;
The system of giving legal advice and guidance to inspectors is fragmented;
The system does not ensure a consistent national approach to prosecutions;
IT systems do not provide an effective case tracking system or provide performance indicators;
There is insufficient monitoring of the performance or fees of solicitor agents;
There is a lack of consistency in our prosecution file systems

and proposed the following changes:

A new model of prosecutions involving a "fundamental approach by the HSE ... necessary to raise the quality and efficiency of HSE prosecutions, and to ensure the independence and accountability properly expected of a prosecution authority."
The new model would permit "independent legal oversight of the decision to prosecute" - separation of "prosecution from investigation, in order to ensure a fair trial and to promote best practice, ensure consistency and transparency.
The new model would involve the establishment of four "prosecution teams" - one for London/South East, one for the North, one for the Midlands and one for Wales and the West - each comprising lawyers, inspectors and administrators,
The new model would allow all decisions to prosecute to be reviewed by a lawyer.
In order to provide an "authoritative independent assessment" of the quality of HSE's prosecutions and to promote best practice, an "external inspectorate such as the CPS Inspectorate could be invited in to carry out inspections"
This would result in
- a consistent national approach to prosecutions across HSE;
- an assurance that the right charges are brought, thereby enabling courts to sentence appropriately;
- an independent check of the decision to prosecute which is outside the current line management safeguards, thus improving the quality of HSE prosecutions
- the establishment of centralised quality assurance inspection systems
- control over solicitor agents (particularly monitoring performance and fees).
- relieve inspector from administrative burdens
A pilot project with this new model would be set up
A system of monitoring solicitor agents should be set up
A single centralised case-based system of recording information in relation to prosecution work that could provide statistics and performance indicators nationally and locally
Development of a system, that will ensure HSE has comprehensive legal guidance and training in place for staff.
Development of a charging standard which gives clear guidance on charging practice
HSE should work with others to help develop mode of trail and sentencing guidelines appropriate to health and safety offences.

This section sets out the main points of this report.

Terms of Reference
Independent Legal Oversight
New Model for Prosecutions
Positive Outcomes resulting from change
Pilot Project
Monitoring Prosecution Outcomes
New Dissemination Policy

If you would like to download the whole report, click here.

If you would like to read about what reforms the HSE have implemented in April 2004, click here

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Page last updated on April 8, 2004