Corporate enforcement policy

Levels of enforcement action

4.1 In responding to non- compliance, enforcement officers will clearly explain what the non compliant item or activity is, the advice that is being given, actions required or decisions taken and the reasons for these. An opportunity for dialogue will be provided in relation to the advice, requirements or decisions, with a view to ensuring that the officer is acting in a way which is proportionate and consistent. However, this need not be the case where the enforcement action is required to prevent or respond to a serious breach or where providing such an opportunity for dialogue would be likely to defeat the purpose of the proposed enforcement action.

4.2 Officers will comply with the Human Rights Act wherever it applies. Officers will ensure that all enforcement action is justified, auditable, proportionate, authorised, and necessary having regard to the circumstances of the individual case.

4.3 As a regulator, the Council recognises that there are a range of enforcement tools available, sanctioning and penalty powers available. These range from informal approaches through to formal action such as notices, prosecutions, suspensions and revocations.

The pyramid of enforcement options set out below shows in a general way the relative severity of enforcement options. At the top of the pyramid are those sanctions which potentially affect a person's liberty or ability to earn a living. The exact enforcement tools available will vary with the offence under consideration.

Corporate Enforcement Policy Pyramid

4.4 The Council's Authorised Officers will usually choose which level to start at depending on the offence, the seriousness of the situation and the level of intent of the offender. They will seek compliance with legislation by one or a combination of methods set out below having carefully considered the relevant legislation, circumstances of the case, risks tools available and the outcome intended.

4.5 In general, and as shown below this means that enforcement will move from level 1 through to level 3, although in serious cases (as judged on the particular circumstances of that case) it may be appropriate to commence at level 3.

4.6 However, for some Environment offences, though the offence may be considered to be of a minor nature, the offence may require an immediate response at level 3 for an effective deterrent and outcome.

The offences of a minor nature that come under this consideration are as follows:

  • Littering, that is dropping of litter, including parts of a cigarette or cigar;
  • Littering, such as allowing a dog to foul in a public place and not clearing up the fouling in an appropriate or timely manner;
  • Abandonment of a shopping trolley;
  • Graffiti and other defacement

It is recognised that on occasions to follow the first two levels of enforcement options will not assist in the compliance of legislation. It is considered that the above offences can at the discretion of the enforcement officer start at the formal level 3: an issuance of a "Fixed Penalty Notice" (FPN).

Range of enforcement measures used by Welwyn Hatfield Council

Enforcement Level Enforcement Level Enforcement options
Level 1 Advice and guidance To assist individuals, existing and prospective businesses and other organisations to comply with their legal obligations and support economic growth. This will be achieved by a variety of suitable methods.
Level 2 Informal To be used to reinforce advice and guidance where minor breaches of the law may have been discovered but it was not thought appropriate to take formal action. This may include informal warnings. These warnings can be oral or written and can be the most appropriate course of action when minor contraventions are discovered. Where warnings are issued, follow- up visits will normally be made to ensure steps are being taken to rectify the problem.

Warnings issued in respect of more significant breaches of the law will include timescales within which the breaches should be remedied and will always result in follow-up visits to ensure compliance.

Level 3 Formal Including the use of statutory (legal) notices, seizure, detention and render safe, simple cautions, prosecution, licence suspension and revocation

The Council has a number of enforcement "tools" available. Examples include:

  • Request to provide information
  • Fixed penalty notices
  • Improvement notices
  • Prohibition notices
  • Stop notices
  • Seizure and destruction powers
  • Work in Default and Cost recovery
  • Simple Caution
  • Prosecution
  • Licence Suspension or revocation
  • Community Protection Notices
  • Planning Enforcement Orders