Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011; HSWA s51A amendment

SIM 07/2012/01


This guidance explains the implications of an amendment to section 51A of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW) by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 affecting who has HSW s2 employer duties when police officers from one force are shared with/on loan to other police forces.


On 16 January 2012, Section 99 and Schedule 16 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 brought into force an amendment to s51A of HSW transferring HSW s2 employer duties to the host force where police officers are working under collaborative agreements. This has implications for HSE investigation, enforcement and cost recovery activity.


Inspectors undertaking an investigation involving police officers working under a collaboration agreement will need to establish which force holds the primary health and safety duties.

In practical terms it is likely there will be little difference in the way an investigation is carried out as inspectors will wish to consider the actions of all the forces involved in the collaboration. 

Inspectors will wish to consider the co-operation, coordination and communication arrangements, risk assessments, training and PPE issues, etc. made in accordance with Regulations 11 & 12 MHSWR and s2 & s3 HSWA.  Inspectors will also wish to consider the suitability of the arrangements made for a collaboration agreement that includes the co-ordination of joint resources in response to urgent demands as well as those for longer term, planned work.

 See Appendix 1 for examples of different types of collaboration situations.


Continuing requirements

Police forces can implement collaborative working agreements involving the sharing or lending of police officers, to achieve more efficient and effective delivery of policing services.  Sections 23 – 24 of the Police Act 1996 set out the provisions for collaboration agreements and mutual aid.

Regulation 11 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999 requires both forces involved in the collaboration to work together to ensure compliance with health and safety legislation. 

Collaboration agreements (previously made under s23 of the Police Act) made between forces in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness for planned work are designed to run for an indefinite period of time.

Section 24 of the Police Act permits forces to provide police officers or other assistance to another police force for the purpose of enabling the other police force to meet any ad hoc special demand on its resources (eg public order incidences requiring police support units from neighbouring forces). 

This is known as mutual aid and is distinct from collaboration agreements made under s23 as above.  Mutual aid will typically last for a relatively short period of time and once complete the police resource will return to its home force.  In these situations the employer duties under s2 HSW remain with the home force.

S51A HSW Pre-amendment

Before the s51A amendment, the office of chief constable as a corporation sole retained duties as employer under s2 HSW for police officers that were loaned to/shared with other forces through a collaboration agreement under s23 of the Police Act 1996, regardless of whether they were under his/her direction and control. This was by virtue of the Police (Health and Safety) Act 1997 and under Regulations, by virtue of section 51A (2)(a) HSW.

The host force owed those shared/on loan from another force, duties under s3 HSW.

S51A HSW Post-amendment

Where police officers are loaned to other forces by virtue of a collaboration agreement made under the new s22A of the Police Act, the HSW s51A amendment transfers the duties under s2 HSW from the home force to the host force.

Section 24 of the Police Act is not subject to the amendment so there is no change of primary dutyholder where police officers are deployed to another force to provide aid to meet a special demand (eg public order incidences) under this section.  In these cases the primary s2 HSW duty remains with the home force and the s3 HSW duty is owed by the host force.


No special workplan action is required by this guidance.

Further References

For information on police collaboration provisions see:


OPSTD/Public Services Sector/Police, Fire, Prisons Team

Appendix 1: Collaboration and mutual aid examples

Examples of collaboration situations:  (to illustrate dutyholder identification for enforcement and fee for intervention purposes):

  • Police officers are deployed to a neighbouring police force to assist in a murder inquiry.  It is expected the deployment will last for a period of 6 months or more and therefore it is likely that it will be made under a s22A Police Act collaboration agreement.  The officers will work under the direction and control of the chief officer of the neighbouring force.  Before the deployment, both forces must agree the details of the collaboration.  On deployment of the officers the employer's primary health, safety and welfare duties under s2 of HSWA transfers to the host force for the duration of the deployment.
  • Police officers are deployed to a neighbouring police force to assist in maintaining public order at a major event or are deployed on a short duration operation such as officers from regional police forces deployed to assist in policing the Olympic Games.  These types of deployments are likely to be made under a s24 Police Act mutual aid agreement.  During short term deployments under mutual aid, the primary health and safety duty to the officers stays with their home force.  The host force assumes a s3 duty for them.

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