A power of entry is a right for a person (usually a state official such as a police officer, local authority trading standards officer or a member of enforcement staff of a regulatory body) to legally enter defined premises, such as businesses, vehicles or land for specific purposes.
On 11 February 2011, the Prime Minister announced the introduction of the Protection of Freedoms Bill as part of the government’s civil liberties and freedoms agenda. The bill received royal assent and became law on 1 May 2012. The act includes reforms to rationalise powers of entry relating to domestic, commercial and other types of premises.
The provisions contained in the act provide the ‘tools’ needed to:
- repeal unnecessary powers of entry
- add safeguards to powers where they are weak or missing
- consolidate groups of similar powers to improve transparency, heighten safeguards and remove duplication
DECC (with Ofgem where applicable) reviewed its 58 Powers of Entry to meet the requirement in section 42 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
These powers sit across energy and climate change policy, for example:
- Energy suppliers and network operators have Powers of Entry to maintain their infrastructure;
- Others are exercised in emergency situations;
- Some Powers of Entry are used by DECC to monitor the environmental standards of offshore oil and gas facilities.
Following the review of the Powers of Entry owned by DECC, six powers were scrapped; two irrelevant powers were identified that cannot be formally repealed or revoked because licences are still in place that rely on them; four powers had additional safeguards added; one new power was introduced; and 45 powers were left unchanged. DECC now has 52 Powers of Entry.