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HSE may seek prosecutions before inquests are finished

The Health and Safety Executive is considering seeking prosecution before inquests have been completed in a bid to reduce the time between crime and punishment.

At present the HSE and other signatories to the work-related death protocol can only seek prosecution for work-related deaths once the police and Crown Prosecution Service have decided not to press for manslaughter charges and an inquest has been held.

Under new proposals, the HSE would be able to seek prosecutions as soon as the police and CPS had chosen not to charge for manslaughter.

Any change to current protocol will be decided by the National Liaison Committee, which includes the HSE, local councils, the Association of Chief Police Officers, British Transport Police and the CPS.

NLC chairman Richard Daniels told H&V News: “The National Liaison Committee is considering whether a change to the operational practice on the chronology of proceedings would be appropriate at this time. A final decision on whether such a change might be implemented operationally has not been made.”

Under current rules, employers are required to report any incidents causing an employee to be absent from work for more than three days to the relevant enforcing authority - either the HSE or the local council.

The consultation paper will be published on www.hse.gov.uk in the week commencing 17 January. The deadline for responses will be 11 April.