This procedure describes how HSE carries out the process of prosecuting, which differs in England/Wales and Scotland: from considering and approving a prosecution report, through preparing for, and attending court, where applicable, to post-court action.


To provide a common, transparent procedure for HSE's Operations Group staff when prosecution is under consideration


The procedure covers the assessment of the available evidence, the preparation of a prosecution report, its appraisal, and if approved, its referral to the Procurator Fiscal (in Scotland) or the instigation of legal proceedings (in England and Wales), the legal process followed in England and Wales (excluding appeals) and post-court action, including contact with the dutyholder


HSE will apply the principles laid down in the HSC's Enforcement Policy Statement to ensure that enforcement action is proportional to the health and safety risks and the seriousness of the breach


Prosecution within this procedure is the taking of punitive action against a dutyholder following a decision making process which is impartial, justified and procedurally correct.

An Approval Officer has the authority to approve a prosecution, will be at Band 2 level or above, have the necessary legal competencies to thoroughly assess a prosecution report in a fair, independent and objective way and meet the other criteria described at Stage 3 of this procedure.

A Litigation Officer is an administrator who has received appropriate training to undertake administrative actions relating to the prosecution process, under the instruction and guidance of either an inspector or a solicitor agent.


Line managers/Approval Officers should exercise discretion and professional judgement when undertaking their allotted tasks within this procedure and ensure decisions to prosecute are in line with HSC's Enforcement Policy Statement.

Inspectors should be alert for situations that may potentially justify punitive action, and where applying the principles of the EMM upholds their opinion, instigate this procedure to determine whether prosecution will be taken


Line managers should:

and in FOD:

Inspectors should:

Litigation officers should:

Procedure overview

An overview of the procedure is provided in the attached flowchart [72kb]


Line managers should ensure, via normal management activity, that those involved in operating this procedure carry out their responsibilities in line with the standards and timescales described. However, they should make sufficient documented checks to satisfy themselves, and to prove to any subsequent audits, that the procedure is being operated correctly

Updated 2020-09-01