Enforcement procedures for crown bodies

SIM 07/2001/34

This SIM informs inspectors about the issue of a Personnel Information Note (PIN) by the Cabinet Office dealing with enforcement procedures for Crown bodies, including Crown censures. A copy of the PIN is given at the appendix.


1 Although the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) apply to the Crown, including departments and agencies, Crown bodies are immune from statutory enforcement of health and safety legislation by virtue of HSW Act s.48(1).

2 Whilst proceedings may not be taken against the Crown, administrative procedures known as Crown censures have been developed for use in circumstances where it is HSE's opinion that, but for Crown immunity, there would have been sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in the courts.

3 Since 1988, there have been 25 Crown censures, but the absence of an agreed, documented procedure has led to some difficulties in recent years. Accordingly, following extensive consultation with HSE, Crown employers and the Council of Civil Service Unions, the Cabinet Office issued a Personnel Information Note setting out an agreed procedure on 13 June 2001 (see appendix ). The appendix does not include annexes A-C containing the Health and Safety Commission's Enforcement Policy Statement and Crown enforcement notices.

Crown censure procedure

4 Inspectors who are familiar with the existing censure procedure will note the following changes introduced in the PIN:

1) Paragraph 17 - HSE is responsible for inviting the relevant trade union or other safety representative(s) to observe the hearing, and will either do so directly or agree that the Crown body concerned should extend the invitation; and

2) Paragraph 22 - If, after considering the HSE inspector's response to any representations, the Crown body's officials do not accept there is sufficient evidence to have provided a realistic prospect of conviction, HSE will invite them to make further representations to the head of the appropriate HSE operating directorate or division, who will review the case. If the Crown body decides not to make such representations, HSE will record the censure without further discussion.

5 Inspectors will be aware that HSE's report Health and Safety Offences and Penalties included a list of Crown bodies which had been censured during the year 1999/2000, and similar information was published on HSE's Internet website.

Date first issued: 10 July 2001

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Updated 2020-12-16