The operator of a wedding venue in Cheshire has recently been jailed for 20 months for breaching fire safety regulations.
The operator, Mr Mohammed Isaq, had previously been in trouble with the fire authorities in 2012 for a number of fire safety breaches and which he was required to take action and did not do so.
He received a fine of £23,815.00, but it would seem that this did not alter his attitude to fire safety and the regulatory authorities.
He fell foul of Cheshire Fire Service against recently when recently he failed to comply with a variety of notices served on him and the premises to improve fire safety arrangements.
As a result of his non-compliance he is now sentenced to 20 months in prison for these offences.
Whilst it could be argued that he was foolish to allow non-compliance to arise a second time and then when the breaches were pointed out, to do nothing about it, it also demonstrates the seriousness in which the Courts treat these matters.
A fire broke out at the premises in March and whilst no-one was injured, significant damage was caused. It could be argued that in addition to the prosecution, the premises and the revenue it generates have permanently or certainly temporarily been extinguished – pardon the pun!
As I have mentioned previously in other articles, the mind-set of a number of operators needs to change when dealing with regulators.
Enforcement action and court proceedings are not just reserved after a fall, trip, fire or fatality. Regulators, can and do, take action where simply a risk exists, which may never manifest itself into an injury or other obvious consequence.
The need to take prompt advice and action when notices are threatened or served is crucial in situations such as the one outlined above. Whilst experience shows that notices are not always served correctly, there needs to be prompt action taken to assess them and simply ignoring the importance of a notice, even if incorrect in part, or overall, is no solution to the problem.
In addition, one of the main factors that Courts take extremely seriously when sentencing offenders is their previous convictions and linked to that their safety record whether that be good or bad.
Therefore, if you are unlucky enough to have a conviction or there is evidence of non-compliance and you are subsequently prosecuted, this undoubtedly will effect whatever sentence the Court hands down. Our advice is clear. You should be unrelenting in ensuring compliance to avoid that conviction in the first instance and if you are unlucky to receive one, to redouble your efforts to prevent further convictions which may avoid you taking up residence in the next cell!