The Water Industry (Suppliers’ Information) Direction 2021 requires water companies to inform the Inspectorate of all events that have affected, or are likely to affect drinking water quality, or sufficiency of supplies and, where as a result, there may be a risk to consumers’ health. When notified, the Inspector assesses all the information available to determine:
- What caused the problem and whether or not it was avoidable;
- What the company did in response and how it handled the event;
- What lessons can be learned to prevent similar incidents in the future;
- If there were any breaches of enforceable regulations; and
- Whether an offence has been committed.
There are several typical outcomes of an event assessment by an Inspector:
- A letter sent to the company, copied to other relevant parties;
- A letter sent to the company, coped to other relevant parties, making recommendations for action which the company must take to address deficiencies revealed by the event;
- Issue of a formal warning letter to the company, copied to other relevant parties;
- Enforcement action initiated against the company: a legal process to ensure the company takes all the necessary action to prevent further breaches of either a regulatory duty or a drinking water standard; other relevant parties are informed; and
- Initiation of prosecution proceedings against the company or the issue of a formal caution for a criminal offence; other relevant parties are informed.
List of Top 50 events in England and Wales 2022 as reported in the latest Chief Inspectors report.
DWI’s prosecution policy towards events
The offences for which the Inspectorate can initiate proceedings are criminal offences. Prosecutions are taken forward in the name of the Chief Inspector where there is reliable evidence that an offence has been committed, where the company does not have a defence that it took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence, and when such a prosecution is regarded as being in the public interest.
For those events that do not justify full Court proceedings the Inspectorate may issue a caution which the Court could take into account in any future offences.
A full record of all Prosecutions and Cautions can be viewed on this website.