Audits and consultation visits
We carry out audits to ensure that local-authority environmental health officers are fulfilling their statutory duties. The enforcement operations of local authorities must be of a good quality, based on risks and prevent negative health effects. Enforcement must be carried out in line with the enforcement plan approved by the local authority. It must also take national enforcement plans drawn up by central offices into account, as appropriate for the local conditions.
We supervise local authorities by paying assessment and consultation visits to environmental health protection enforcement units. We use audits and consultation visits as a way to check
- local authorities’ health protection, tobacco, food and veterinary control plans and how they are being implemented,
- the way in which enforcement is organised (e.g. fees, delegation, budgets, human resources management, strategy, staff training and contingency planning),
- whether the controls are in compliance with the law and national enforcement guidelines,
- whether the controls are risk-based, consistent and effective,
- the way in which the compliance of various kinds of food premises (e.g. food production facilities and restaurants) is ensured and whether the hygiene rating and product safety criteria used are appropriate and applied consistently,
- the way in which local authorities enforce the Health Protection Act and the Tobacco Act (e.g. by auditing water suppliers, social welfare institutions and tobacco vendors),
- how animal health and welfare regulations are enforced, and
- whether local-authority veterinary medical care services comply with the law.
We also aim to identify best practices and ways to promote compliance and share these on a website designed for the central authorities.
We produce an audit report after each visit, in which we identify the strengths and weaknesses identified as well as any non-conformances. Our feedback also includes suggestions of improvements. If a local authority’s control system does not satisfy the requirements, we will ask for an explanation. The local authority will need to explain how and when they intend to rectify the non-conformances.