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Drinking Water Inspectorate: Prosecutions

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 24 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many prosecutions brought by the Drinking Water Inspectorate resulted in (a) convictions and (b) custodial sentences in each year since 1995; (137874)

(2) how many (a) prosecutions, (b) cautions and (c) enforcement notices were brought by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (i) in total and (ii) in each region in each year since 1995.

Prosecutions are initiated against a company, not an individual. Convictions arise when a company is found guilty of the criminal offence of supplying water unfit for human consumption.

The following table shows the number of prosecutions and cautions of water companies brought by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) between 1995 and 2006. The sum total is 38 prosecutions and 23 cautions of companies supplying water in England and Wales.

Prosecutions

Cautions

1995

2

1

1996

1

0

1997

4

0

1998

9

2

1999

9

8

2000

5

3

2001

3

2

2002

1

2

2003

0

2

2004

1

1

2005

0

2

2006

3

0

The legal enforcement process is initiated by the DWI with the issue of a “minded to enforce” notice to which the water company responds. The response often involves the provision of a legally binding undertaking to carry out work to remedy the matter, thereby staying the requirement for an enforcement order to be issued.

Since 1995, this process has been used on over 3,000 occasions. Details of the companies involved are provided in the Chief Inspector’s annual Drinking Water reports.