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Our approach to inspections

We undertake programmed checks on compliance with legislation in the following areas:

  • Animal health and welfare
  • Primary food production
  • Feed hygiene

Frequency of checks

All relevant premises in Staffordshire will be programmed for a check at least once every 4 to 5 years.

A nationally recognised risk assessment scheme determines the frequency of these checks. For animal and welfare checks we operate the risk scheme published by Defra.

For official controls on food hygiene and feed hygiene, we operate the risk scheme published by the FSA.

Types of checks

High risk

If your premises are rated as as 'high risk', our checks will involve a visit to your premises.

First visits will usually be notified in advance by letter to allow you to make sure that you are available.

You can rearrange the appointment if the date given is inconvenient. If follow-up visits are needed, these are usually unannounced. 

Medium or low risk

If your premises are rated as 'medium risk' or 'low risk', we will decide whether to visit you on the basis of a more detailed risk assessment.

This involves considering factors such as:

  • Available information on your record of following relevant legislation.
  • The nature and scale of your business.
  • Whether one of our partner agencies (such as the RPA) have recently inspected your premises.
  • Whether you have shown a commitment to recognised standards, such as through membership of a quality assurance scheme. This is known as 'earned recognition. It acknowledges efforts made by farmers and businesses to understand legal requirements and to get things right. Businesses with earned recognition will still be subject to inspections but these should be significantly reduced.

We may telephone you to ask for further information to help us to make this decision. We may offer you the option of participating in a compliance check by phone instead of an inspection visit.

Telephone compliance checks

These provide you with an opportunity to raise any concerns or to seek advice from one of our qualified officers. They also allow us to understand whether you are complying with the relevant legal requirements, without visiting you.

To ensure that our processes are robust, a random sample of those who complete a telephone compliance check will later receive an inspection visit.

Scoring criteria

Scoring criteria are used to ensure consistent application of the risk assessment factors by our officers.

The details of these scoring criteria are not made available as this might invalidate the telephone compliance check process.

If you would like a full list of the criteria used please contact us.

Farm regulators' charter

The farm regulators' charter sets out what you can expect from a farm visit by a regulator and what your responsibilities are.

The charter brings together the principles that all farm regulators in England follow when visiting farms.

These make sure all regulators carry out visits consistently and covers all inspection types and visits of agricultural and aquaculture.

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