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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulators-code-and-the-fish-health-inspectorate/regulators-code-and-the-fish-health-inspectorate
1. Executive summary
The Regulator’s Code, which came into effect in April 2014, sets out what information regulators should provide to those they regulate.
This guidance outlines how the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) meet the 7 criteria of the code to ensure we are open and fair with those we regulate.
We provide this information to ensure businesses understand what they need to do to comply, where they can get help and how they can provide feedback to us.
2. Supporting Business Growth
Under the new Business Impact Target (BIT), non-economic regulators who wish to change their operational policies, processes or practices must assess the burdens and quantify the impact of that change on the businesses. This gives you a stronger voice when regulators create policies and practices which have the potential to impact on your business. However, BIT does not apply to individual licensing, consenting or enforcement decisions.
The FHI will share and discuss assessments with trade associations and other business representatives before carrying out proposed changes. We also work closely with other environmental regulators, such as Natural England and the Environment Agency, to ensure that a consistent approach is applied.
Our engagement with businesses varies depending on the size and type of sector affected. Occasionally we will host face to face discussions, such as annual stakeholder workshops, to explore the potential impacts with those affected. Also we may need to undertake more widespread consultation to gather input through trade bodies.
However the FHI do not change Government policy on aquatic animal health. This is the responsibility of Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and involves a wider consultation process and impact assessments. This is then published as a Business Engagement Assessment on GOV.UK.
There are currently wider reforms to make the enforcement of regulation less burdensome, this includes a Growth Duty. This is a statutory requirement for regulators to consider the impact of any new activities on business growth.
2.1 FHI’s regulatory strategy
Our approach to the government regulatory reform agenda:
- we believe that our customers should be treated with fairness and respect
- we have guidance and processes in place to ensure we approach regulatory issues in a balanced, fair and accountable way, following the Hampton principles, Better Regulation principles and Regulators’ Code
- the following publications explain our approach to regulation:
- we are reducing the burdens placed upon our customers by reducing:
- the time taken to complete application forms
- the length of our inspections
The changes made to date are that we:
- provide real time communication to industry by using Twitter and Facebook
- implemented electronic data collection for inspections to reduce visit times
- revised application forms to be shorter and clearer
- improved our risk-based enforcement by implementing an intelligence led system to better target non-compliances
The FHI uses simple and straightforward mechanisms to engage with our regulated sector. These include:
- providing advice and guidance over the telephone, by email or on the web
- giving clear advice and guidance to those who are not compliant, and what needs to be done to return to compliance
- having a formal complaint and appeals procedure
- asking for feedback about our service using digital tools and paper surveys
The mechanisms are explained within our service charter. It outlines standards for how we engage with those we regulate and is reviewed annually.
However, whilst we engage in open dialogue regarding advice, there will be times when doing so may impact the purpose of a proposed enforcement action. We assess this on a case by case basis.
4. Risk assessment
We base our regulatory activities on risk by using a risk assessment framework. It’s regularly reviewed to improve our decision making and regulatory targeting processes. This involves:
- an epidemiological model. This uses data from operators’ inspections to define the number of future inspections they will receive. It is based on the likelihood of the site spreading or introducing diseases. Our inspectors inform operators of activities which can affect this ranking
- an enforcement strategy. This defines future inspections on historic and current compliance. and provides opportunities for earned recognition. We undertake enforcement using best practice in intelligence and enforcement procedures across government, in accordance with the National Intelligence Model
Our focus for enforcement is to ensure it is timely and appropriate. This is done through using a common format for the collection, exchange and analysis of intelligence being used by our enforcement team.
To effectively use our resources, non-compliant activities by our sector are ranked in priority order. Action plans are used for high ranking threats, with other risks addressed on a more reactive basis. Resources are then allocated to target and resolve non-compliances.
5. Information sharing
The FHI share information about compliance and risk in our sector through quarterly reports on GOV.UK.
Requests for information sent to us are dealt with on a case by case basis in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
We collect data from you for aquatic animal health purposes. This can be shared with other government departments and agencies for this purpose, or for enforcement investigations.
We observe the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 and any personal information we hold about those we regulate will be treated in accordance with that legislation.
You are entitled to a copy of any information we hold about you. And you’ve the right to rectify any inaccurate information that we may hold.
The FHI ensure clear guidance and advice is available to help those we regulate. We focus on helping people better understand what their regulatory requirements are and how to meet them.
Guidance and advice is provided through our inspectors, customer service team, fish and shellfish sector publications, and GOV.UK.
We regularly review our information, to ensure it is clear, accessible and written in plain English. We also look for and resolve areas where conflicting advice is provided by different regulators.
All of our guidance outlines the legal requirements, as well as providing examples of suggested good practice or solutions to issues operators face, eg examples of record keeping books.
The FHI ensure our approach to regulatory activities is transparent. We do this by ensuring those we regulate know what to expect from us by publishing clear service standards, called a service charter, and our enforcement strategy on GOV.UK. It includes information on how we:
- communicate with the regulated community
- approach providing information, advice and guidance
- approach checks on compliance
- approach enforcement
- report to operators on these checks
They also explain how you can complain and appeal.
All of our services, advice, and inspections are free of charge.
The FHI produces quarterly reports on GOV.UK to provide updates to our sector on our activities. They also outline how well we’ve met our service standards.
We regularly undertake gathering of customer service feedback and publish our results on GOV.UK. This information is collected using a monthly digital survey to operators, by email survey from the customer service team, and using a bi-annual paper survey.
More detailed feedback about our inspections is published in our Finfish News and Shellfish News publications on the Marine Science GOV.UK blog.