SAFETY OF STAFF ON INSPECTIONS
This section deals with the safety of staff. Whilst the safety of staff carrying out an inspection is primarily a management issue, it is covered in this chapter to ensure that guidance is provided on all aspects of carrying out an inspection.
Managers are responsible for the safety of their staff and consequently it is essential that managers know the location and situation of their staff at all times while they are working away from the office, particularly when out visiting an insolvent’s premises. Any person undertaking an inspection should be issued with a mobile phone for the duration of that inspection. If an examiner uses a personal mobile phone for this purpose (an office mobile phone being unavailable), the cost of reasonable telephone calls may be reclaimed.
In every case the following procedure should be followed:
(a) Before commencing an inspection the person carrying out the inspection should advise a colleague/assistant official receiver of the inspection to be undertaken, providing details of the case and the location and expected duration of the inspection. If for some reason this is changed, the person should be notified as soon as possible. The telephone number of the premises to be visited should be given where possible.
(b) It is a matter for the judgment of the local manager on a case-by-case basis, whether from the information available and the particular circumstances, the examiner/inspector should be accompanied by another officer (but see paragraph 8.43).
(c) No male inspecting officer should cross the threshold on a domestic inspection if the only current adult occupant is a female and no female inspecting officer should cross the threshold on a domestic inspection if the only occupant is a male. Neither should an inspecting officer make entry if the only occupant is a child. If the purpose of the inspection is a tracing exercise, any discussion must occur at the front door, even if invited in. If the purpose is purely to collect books and records, a request should be made that the books/papers are brought to the front door for collection. If it is not possible to bring the items to the door, or if the person refuses to give any information, except in private i.e. not in the doorway, arrangements must be made for contact by telephone or alternatively a visit with another officer as necessary. The purpose of this is to limit any risk against an inspecting officer's safety and to minimise the possibility of unfounded complaints of impropriety against inspecting officers.
(d) On conclusion of the inspection, the inspecting officer should report back to the manager that they have left the site, even if they are not going to return back to the office that day.
(e) In the event of the inspecting officer not returning/telephoning, local management should attempt to contact the inspecting officer by mobile phone. If it is not possible to make contact in this way, consideration should be given to attempting to phone the address visited/person to be visited. It is a matter for local management on a case-by-case basis as to whether the police should be contacted.
Two or more inspecting officers should where possible, carry out any potential problem inspections, e.g. where it is believed that the director/bankrupt has threatened violence.
When attending an inspection in a vehicle it is good practice to ensure that the vehicle is parked in such a way that an easy escape can be made if necessary, e.g. reverse into a space, or ensure your vehicle is facing the way out if you are in a cul-de-sac. Ensure your keys can easily be located if needed, and don’t get out of the vehicle if you feel threatened in anyway. When on foot avoid going down badly lit or isolated walkways alone, if you feel threatened try to head for a busy public place. Further information on personal safety generally may be obtained from The Suzy Lamplugh Trust web site (www.suzylamplugh.org).
Staff should pay particular attention to their safety when on visits to premises that may have been used for industrial purposes. Those previously responsible for health and safety matters at those premises may not have fully discharged those responsibilities. More information can be found in the Service’s Health and Safety Policy, http://intranet/CWS/Workplace%20Services/H%26SPolicy.htm