Local authorities, the HSE, the Department for BEIS, DEFRA, VOSA, Ofsted and many others have the power to investigate and prosecute criminal offences. They have the power to obtain warrants to enter premises to search and seize material.
Suspects are often written to and invited to attend an interview under caution. Early legal advice is needed as to whether it is advisable to attend the interview and if it is, what approach to take at the interview.
Whilst, if convicted, these offences generally attract a fine, the more serious of them can attract a sentence of imprisonment. Some of the offences can be tried in the crown as well as the magistrates’ court. Where offences have given rise to a financial benefit, conviction can often lead to confiscation proceedings in the crown court, which can in turn lead to orders requiring payment of very considerable sums.
Proceedings can be brought in the name of a trading company but often the director of the company is also prosecuted in his/her own name. Sometimes the regualtor will accept a plea from a company and abandon the proceedings against the director.
Even though the prosecution is not brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, there can still be far reaching consequences. Early legal advice is imperative.
At Sonn Macmillan Walker we have considerable experience advising in relation to local authority investigations and prosecutions.