News - Penalties/Fines/Prosecutions

Poundstretcher – Fined £51,500

Poundstretcher – Fined £51,500

Leeds Crown Court fined Poundstretcher, a chain of discounts stores in the United Kingdom for seven offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in October 2005. The offences were found at Poundstretcher’s Castleford store in West Yorkshire.

Fire Safety Breaches

  • Failure to take adequate fire precautions for its employees and other relevant people

  • Failure to review its fire risk assessment

  • Emergency routes and exits blocked

  • Inadequate staff training.

The severity of the fines imposed by the court show that companies cannot continue to treat public and staff safety with contempt. The fines are intended to make Poundstretcher take its obligations seriously in the future. – Craig McIntosh, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s director of fire safety

Director of Cumberland Court Limited, Karim Moloo from Middlesex was fined £22,000 by the Warwickshire Justice Centre, Leamington Spa in January 2013 for several breaches of the Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005.

Fire Safety Breaches

  • Failing to carry out a sufficient fire risk assessment

  • Not fitting suitable fire detectors and alarms

  • Having locked and blocked fire exits

  • Not having suitable testing arrangements in place for the emergency lighting

  • Failing to comply with an enforcement notice issued by West Midlands Fire Service

These were shocking breaches of fire safety laws. I have no doubt that, had there been a fire, the hotel’s staff and guests were at serous risk of being killed or seriously hurt – Denis Murphy, West Midlands Fire Service Fire Safety Legal Officer.

The Radnor Hotel – £200,000 Fine

The Radnor Hotel - £200,000 Fine

The London Fire Brigade secured their biggest ever fine against hotel owner Salim Patel, who put lives at risk by flouting fire safety laws. Salim Patel, the former owner of The Radnor Hotel was issued an enforcement notice requiring that put right the deficiencies uncovered which included:  

1) inadequate fire detection systems

2) inadequate emergency lighting

3) missing fire doors

4) no fire risk assessment

5) evidence the basement storeroom was being used for sleeping

Prosecution commenced after follow up visits to the premises found no action had been taken to correct the situation.

Bayswater Hotel, London

Bayswater hotel: Fined £230,000

In March 2015, Salim Patel, the former owner of the Radnor Hotel in Bayswater, London, was fined £200,000 for breaches of the 2005 Order. 

When fire safety officers visited the 6-storey, 18-room hotel to carry out a routine inspection, they found:

  • inadequate fire detection systems 

  • blocked emergency exits

  • inadequate emergency lighting

  • fire doors missing or tied open with extension cords or string

  • the basement room used for sleeping

  • no risk assessment had been carried out.

Patel was issued with an enforcement notice. He failed to comply with it. The hotel continued to operate without a working fire detection system. He was fined £200,000 plus £30,000 court costs for 7 breaches of the 2005 Order. He was also sentenced to 4 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. 

The head of fire safety regulation at the London Fire Brigade is reported to have made the following comments after the case. 

  • He hoped that the penalty served as a deterrent for other hoteliers. 

  • The London Fire Brigade carried out around 16,000 inspections every year to help ensure that London’s buildings were safe from fire.

  • This was the biggest fine that the Brigade had ever secured against an individual for breaking fire safety laws. 

  • It should send a message to all business owners that if they were shirking their fire safety responsibilities and putting the public at risk, the Brigade would not hesitate to prosecute.

  • The size of the fine should serve as a stark reminder of the seriousness with which the courts took fire safety. 

New Look – £400,000

British global fashion retailer New Look who have a chain of high street shops in the UK, received the maximum possible fine of £400,000 following a fire that gutted the retailer’s Oxford Street store in 2007. 35 engines and 150 fire-fighters were needed to tackle the blaze and crews remained at the scene for the three days. Trade was disrupted at more than 50 Oxford Street shops. New Look pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 following prosecution by the London Fire Brigade.

Fire Safety Breaches

  • Insufficient staff training

  • Storage blocking escape routes

Good business management includes taking responsibility for fire safety, knowing the law and acting on it. This conviction shows that large companies are not exempt from prosecution and that the London Fire Brigade will take action when businesses do not take their fire safety responsibilities seriously. Failure to comply with the law can, as this case has shown, result in a substantial fine. – Councillor Brian Coleman AM FRSA, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority

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Cumberland Court Limited - Fined £22,000

Leicester Landlord - Imprisoned 8 months

Leicester landlord

In October 2014, Haresh Rambhai Patel, the owner of adjoining properties in Leicester, was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment for ignoring fire safety regulations. 

In May 2013, the properties caught fire. Fire-fighters rescued three residents. No proper fire safety measures were in place. There had been no risk assessment and no evacuation strategy. The fire alarm, smoke alarms and emergency lights were not working. Fire doors were missing, left open or jammed and a fire extinguisher had not been inspected for 25 years. 

Patel had not implemented safety warnings and advice given to him a year before the fire. Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service’s head of community safety commented after the case that Patel had shown a shocking lack of regard for residents. The sentence sent a very strong message to the owners and managers of similar properties regarding their legal responsibilities and the likely consequences of ignoring them. 

Brighton chippy fined £21k after fire

August 10, 2012

A Brighton fish and chip shop owner has been fined £21,000 for breaking fire safety laws after a blaze at her premises put people’s lives at risk.

Samantha Coull, who runs the Beach Break Café in the King’s Road Arches, admitted six offences at Brighton Magistrates’ Court last month.

The offences came to light after a blaze engulfed the chippy in April last year.

Eight fire engines were sent to the seafront premises and firefighters evacuated neighbouring properties.

The court was told that the fish and chip shop had only one domestic smoke alarm which didn’t work.

And the bench also heard that a build up of grease in a poorly maintained extraction duct was set alight by a faulty chip fryer.

The offences included failing to keep her chip shop free from fire, failing to carry out a risk assessment, not having emergency lighting and having an escape route which was too long.

She hadn’t trained her staff in what to do in the event of a fire.

After she was sentenced yesterday (Thursday 9 August) Richard Fowler, head of protection for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The penalty imposed by the court reflects the serious nature of the offences committed.

“East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service fully supports the penalty imposed and would like to take this opportunity to remind all owners and occupiers of buildings of their legal responsibility to protect themselves, their staff and their property against the risk of fire.

“The public should continue to be reassured that we take any breaches of fire safety legislation very seriously.”

Manchester Hospital

Manchester hospital

In November 2014, Fairfield General Hospital in Bury was served with an enforcement notice by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. A routine check discovered the following which did not comply with the requirements of the 2005 Order:

  • fire doors were wedged open

  • storeroom doors were left insecure

  • combustible items were stored in escape routes

  • the Hospital Trust’s own fire safety policy were not being followed

  • emergency routes and exits were not maintained

  • fire safety risk assessment were not suitable and sufficient

  • fire doors were damaged and poorly maintained

  • there was limited evidence of fire drills taking place. 

Failure to comply with the enforcement order could result in prosecution.

Kenley Care Home

Kenley care home - Fined £68,000

Morven Healthcare Ltd, the company which owns Morven House, a care home in Kenley, was fined £45,000 plus £23,000 costs at Croydon Crown Court in June 2014 for 5 offences under the 2005 Order. 

Fire safety inspectors carried out an inspection of the Home in February 2013. They found blocked fire exits, an out-of-date risk assessment, an inadequate fire detection system and no emergency plan. The company was prosecuted by the London Fire Brigade, which released figures showing that there were 10 fires each week in care homes in London and that one-third of people who died in fires in London were receiving care services.

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