Comment by: Tim Nice
Focus area: Food manufacturing (small businesses)
Regulator concerned: My comments are general and do not relate to a particular regulator or regulatory function
Firstly – the obvious failing of this consultation is to completely ignore those with the most experience of these issues – the enforcers.
Secondly – it is a mistake to go at this exercise piecemeal, sector by sector when the overiding problems with enforcement are generalised. The enforcers only enforce in the way government tell them to. The problem is that government seems to have completely the wrong idea of what enforcement is all about.
My suggestions for improving the enforcement climate are quite simple:
1.) The government makes the regulations and scraps any redundant ones, and ensures that enforcers are adequately trained and resourced. This should be the limit of their interference.
2.) The centralised enforcing body (e.g. FSA, HSE etc) carries out any necessary research, issues codes of practice and guidance.
3.) The local enforcers enforce – in accordance with the regulations and bearing in mind any codes of practice or guidance. HOWEVER – the enforcer on the ground should be allowed the discretion, from his own experience and findings, to decide the frequency of inspection of each individual business and the level of enforcement to be pursued.
We can no longer go along with the “One Size Fits All” mentality. Regulations have to be comprehensive and quite strict in order to deal effectively with serious situations but the local enforcer should be allowed to use his discretion in not applying the full weight of the law where it is not necessary and would gain nothing. The current inflexibility in this regard is what has led to the complaints from industry about unfair and unjustified enforcement.