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28 August 2007

“A Charter for Corporate Criminals”  - safety charity responds to Cabinet Office's draft Code of Practice for Regulators

The draft Code of Practice for Regulators – which will apply to the Health and Safety Commission and Executive and will have the force of law - needs significant changes to avoid simply being a “Charter for Corporate Criminals,” the Centre for Corporate Accountability has told the Cabinet Office’s Better Regulation Executive.

The Code of Practice is an attempt by the Better Regulation Executive to bring into effect certain of the recommendations made in the 2005 Hampton Report, Reducing administrative burdens: effective inspection and enforcement. It is to be promulgated by the Secretary of State, using powers in provided to him by the the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006

David Bergman, Director of the Centre for Corporate Accountability said:

“It is our view that this Code of Practice would, in its current form, have a dramatic effect on investigations and prosecutions undertaken by regulatory bodies. Both levels of investigation and prosecution would significantly decline. Whilst its effect would be to ‘reduce burdens on business – it is neither good for safety nor accountability. It would allow even more safety failures to be undetected, and allow those breaches which are detected -  even when they are serious -  to escape criminal accountability. It needs serious amendment."

In its response to the Cabinet Office, the CCA criticises three parts of the Code

  • the requirement in the Code that regulators “should recognise that a key element of their activity will be to allow, or even encourage, economic progress ….";

  • the failure of the Code to appreciate the need for the HSE to investigate death and injury and that when they do so, inspectors, in determining what action to take, need to consider issues wider than just prevention, namely  ‘accountability’, ‘justice’ and ‘deterrence’;

  • the Code only allows enforcement action to be taken against those who ‘deliberately or persistently break the law”. It appears not to allow, negligent or reckless conduct to be prosecuted.

The CCA is concerned that the Health and Safety Commission and Executive has failed to raise these issues in its response to the Cabinet Office - and the CCA will be raising these issues with the Chief Executive of the HSE.

To download CCA's Response to the draft code, click here
To download the draft code, click here
To download HSC's Response to the Code, click here

The Centre for Corporate Accountability is a human rights charity advising those bereaved from work-related deaths, and working on issues of safety, law enforcement and corporate accountability.

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Centre for Corporate Accountability

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Page last updated on August 28, 2007