Dealing with Enforcement Officers – Keeping a Cool Head

We regularly advise businesses, individuals, directors, employees, professional advisors etc. from a broad spectrum of sectors on the essentials of dealing with investigations by enforcement agencies, whether they be brought by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or even the Police.

A central part of our advice usually focuses on rights and processes in a formal interview under caution, and on the possible criminal implications. However, an individual’s conduct with the enforcement staff themselves can have significant vocational or professional implications, notwithstanding the possible absence of any criminal offences.

For example, roadside stops undertaken by the DVSA are common place in the transport industry. Keeping a cool head as an operator and/or driver is imperative in keeping out of the scrutiny of the Traffic Commissioners. Commercial Motor magazine has recently reported the cases of two operator/drivers who were removed from the industry for lengthy periods in both their driver and operator capacities, for abusive and aggressive behaviour towards DVSA examiners. The actions included refusing access to records, tearing up a prohibition notice, and volatile and intimidating behaviour. The message from the Traffic Commissioners is that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated and the appropriate punishments will be handed down.

We understand the concerns some operators and businesses must have in light of the well documented driver shortage, and over the uncertainty caused by Brexit. A loyal and trustworthy workforce is invaluable, but it is the role of the Transport Managers and Company Directors to ensure that compliance is not sacrificed in favour of keeping drivers content.

Those responsible for compliance should ensure sufficient guidance and training is provided to drivers; we would recommend notifying drivers of the above case examples to illustrate the significant consequences. Operators, Directors and Transport Managers should also ensure that sufficient policies are in place to deal with: (1) behaviour, (2) enforcement; and (3) discipline.

As can be seen from the above, it does not take much for things to go wrong and when they do, it is essential that the appropriate action be taken to try to mitigate the situation as far as possible.

Should you need assistance or advice in relation to this or any other transport/professional/regulatory issues, please contact a member of the Transport team on transport@woodfines.co.uk

Nathan Taylor-Allkins