This enforcement policy sets out the arrangements that Coventry City Council has put in place for ensuring compliance with the relevant safety at sports grounds legislation. It explains the Council’s powers and approach to enforcement activity, how the Council deals with businesses and the approach to be taken when infringements of the law are established. In applying this policy the Council’s aim is to ensure that any enforcement action taken is proportionate, open, consistent and clear.
This document should be read in conjunction with the following policies so as to provide a full understanding of the safety at sports ground role carried out by Coventry City Council:
The Safety of Sports Ground Act 1975 (as amended) defines a sports ground as a place where sports and other competitive activities take place in the open air, where accommodation has been provided for spectators, consisting of artificial structures or natural structures artificially modified for the purpose. Under the provisions of Section 1 of the 1975 Act, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport may designate as requiring a safety certificate, any sports ground that has accommodation for more than 10,000 spectators, or 5,000 in the case of Premier League and Football League grounds in England and Wales. These sports grounds are referred to as Designated Grounds. A Regulated Stand is defined in the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987 as any covered stand at a sports ground with accommodation for 500 or more spectators, whether seating or standing. The Safety Advisory Group (SAG) is a multi-agency advisory group consisting of the following core members or their authorised representatives:
3 Legislation and guidance
The relevant legislation that applies to sports grounds safety enforcement and which should be read in conjunction with this policy are as follows:
Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975
Section 10(b) states it shall be the duty of every local authority to enforce within their area the Act and regulations made under it and to arrange periodical inspection of designated sports grounds.
Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987
Section 25 states it shall be the duty of every local authority to enforce within their area the provisions of this Act and of Regulations made under it for designated grounds. It is an offence for any responsible person, not merely the certificate holder, to contravene the terms and conditions of a safety certificate or a prohibition notice. The penalties for contraventions of the safety certificate are listed in section 12 of the 1975 Act and section 36 of the 1987 Act.
DCMS Circular of 16 November 1995
Provides detailed guidance on prohibition notices.
Guide to Safety Certification of Sports Grounds (Green Guide)
Published by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, this gives authoritative and detailed guidance on safety at sports grounds.
The Council seeks to ensure that in enforcement and regulation, the interests of the public are protected. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the law is applied in a fair, equitable and consistent manner and to guide officers into taking the appropriate action. In general and where appropriate, consideration will be given to alternatives to prosecution, for example giving advice and assistance, or obtaining assurances about future conduct. Before formal action is taken, officers will normally provide an opportunity to discuss the circumstances of the case and, if possible, resolve points of difference, unless immediate action is required (for example, in the interests of the safety of all those present at an event, health and safety or to prevent evidence being destroyed). All decisions will be impartial and will not be influenced by race, politics, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or any other belief or status of the alleged offender.
Officers will have due regard to the principles contained within the Regulators Code and any other published and relevant guidance.
The Council will take into account the comments of any victim, injured party or other relevant person to establish:
Coventry City Council is a public authority for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998. Officers will therefore apply the principles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The sports grounds primarily covered by these arrangements are:
The Ricoh Arena
The Butts Park Arena
Under the provisions of Section 10 of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 the Council has the power to issue a prohibition notice to limit the capacity, or totally prohibit the admittance of spectators to any sports ground within Coventry City Council’s area.
6 Delegated powers
Responsibility for the issue or amendment of certificates and carrying out all associated functions including the authorisation of emergency action in connection with sports grounds and places of sports sits primarily with Licensing and Regulatory Committee. The Council within its scheme of delegation has delegated these powers to: Director of Streetscene and Regulatory Services, Place Directorate.
The Council will seek to ensure that enforcement is fairly applied by committing to the following principles of fairness:
8 Risk assessed approach to enforcement
Coventry City Council has adopted a risk based approach to enforcement at sports grounds and this is based upon the combined effect of:
Reference should also be made to the following:
9 Enforcement considerations
The Council’s enforcement officers will consider a number of factors and questions before deciding when to act, these questions will include:
10 Choices of enforcement action
There are several courses of action open to the council’s enforcement officers depending on the different circumstances that may be encountered or apply to the situation. The choices of enforcement action are:
The following gives a more detailed explanation of each of the enforcement options:
Informal action includes offering advice, verbal warnings and requests for action, the use of letters/ informal notices and reports.
Informal action is appropriate where:
An informal warning will be in the form of a written letter that clearly and in plain language will:
Reduction in capacity
Reducing the capacity of all, or part of, a sports ground is a formal action which would be appropriate in
the following situations:
Any new capacity should be properly calculated having regard to the change in circumstances and the procedures to be followed will be the same as during the routine annual review of the safety certificate. Ground management should be invited to submit its proposed revised (P) or (S) factor, but the Council reserve the right to overrule this if appropriate.
When reducing a capacity it is important that:
Once the remedial measures or improvements have been implemented consideration should be given to restoring the original capacity.
Unlike the other provisions of the 1975 and 1987 Acts, the power to issue a prohibition notice applies to all sports grounds, as defined in section 17 of the 1975 Act, including those that are neither designated nor contain a regulated stand.
Section 10 of the 1975 Act empowers the Council to issue a prohibition notice in respect of all or part of any sports ground if it considers that “the admission of spectators to a sports ground or any part of a sports ground involves or will involve a risk to them so serious, that, until steps have been taken to reduce it to a reasonable level, admission of spectators to the sports ground or that part of the sports ground ought to be prohibited or restricted”.
A prohibition notice is therefore a measure of last resort and should only be used where an amendment of the safety certificate (where issued) is not considered an effective way of dealing with the risk(s). When issuing a prohibition notice consideration should be given as to whether the risk to all those present at an event is or may be imminent and if so the notice should take effect as soon as it is served. In all other cases it should come into force at the end of the period specified in the notice.
A prohibition notice must specify:
The notice may also include directions as to the steps which will have to be taken to reduce the risk to a reasonable level. Under the Environment and Safety Information Act 1988 the local authority is required to keep a register
of any prohibition notices that it has issued.
A simple caution should only be issued for offences where there is no imminent risk or where the offence is readily admitted and immediate action has removed the imminent risk. A caution can be used to:
A record of the caution is required to be kept on the Council’s computer system. If the offender commits a further offence, the caution may influence the Council’s decision to take a prosecution. Simple cautions should not be used as an alternative to prosecutions where insufficient evidence is available. Officers should be prepared to prosecute where an individual or business refuses to accept a simple caution. More information can be found in Home Office Circular 016/2008 – “Simple Cautioning Adult Offenders.”
The decision to prosecute is very significant and must be related to risk. The Council will follow the Code for Prosecutors and ensure that the evidential and public interest stages are satisfied. In general, it should be reserved for those who:
Factors to consider are:
Where a decision is made to seek authority to prosecute, a report will be prepared for the Director of Streetscene and Regulatory Services and Head of Planning, as detailed in the Council’s Constitution. Any prosecutions should be brought without delay.
Appeals against a reduction in capacity imposed by way of an amendment to a safety certificate or against a prohibition notice are to a Magistrates Court. Where an appeal is made against an amendment to a safety certificate the amendment cannot take effect until the appeal is heard. However, in the case of an appeal against a prohibition notice, any reduction in capacity remains in place until the appeal is heard.
It is an offence for any responsible person, not merely the certificate holder, to contravene the terms and conditions of a safety certificate or a prohibition notice. These offences and associated penalties, along with the defences of absence of consent and due diligence, are listed in section 12 of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and section 36 of the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987.
13 Suitably trained and competent staff
Individual officers who undertake enforcement duties under the 1975 and 1987 Acts will be suitably trained and qualified to ensure their competency. The Council will ensure that:
Professional Development cycles as well as regular participation in sports grounds work and Safety Advisory Groups ; and
14 Revisions to this document and review
This policy and all safety at sports grounds procedures will be reviewed at intervals not exceeding 12 months and amended at any stage to reflect any changes that may occur in operational procedure or to current legislation. Following any amendment a complete replacement will be distributed.
Date of issue July 18
Date of last review
Reviewed by Nicola Castledine