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Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006

Section 27: Responsibilities in relation to the health and safety etc. of police

100.This section provides a person who holds the office of Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland with “corporation sole” status, and came into force on Royal Assent. Like section 158 of SOCAP in relation to Great Britain, this section amends relevant health and safety legislation in relation to Northern Ireland so that any prosecution will ordinarily be brought against the office of Chief Constable rather than against the individual incumbent. An effect of the provision is that the office of Chief Constable, rather than the individual who temporarily holds it, would be legally responsible for relevant breaches of the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (S.I. 1978/1039 (N.I. 9)).

101.However, the section also creates exceptions for cases where it can be shown that the Chief Constable bore some degree of personal responsibility for the breach – for example, where he consented to the commission of any offence or the commission was attributable to his personal neglect. In these circumstances, the individual Chief Constable could be guilty of the offence in the usual way and would be liable to be proceeded against.

102.Subsections (2) and (3) of the section make the Chief Constable of the PSNI into a corporation sole for the purposes of Articles 72A and 169A of the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (S.I. 1996/1919 (N.I. 16)). Those Articles concern rights not to suffer detriments and not to be unfairly dismissed in connection with health and safety issues. Subsections (4) to (6) make provision for Northern Ireland corresponding to section 158(5) to (7) of SOCAP. For example, the effect of the amendments is backdated to 1 July 1998 for the purpose of any legal proceedings begun on or after commencement of this section.

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