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Case Studies

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Rother & Wealden councils & public health

In February 2018 the Commission published a briefing paper for councils setting out the reasons why gambling harm is a public health issue. Gambling habits had not been thought of in public health terms before but research shows that problem gambling can beco-morbid with other conditions such as mental health problems or substance misuse. The report estimates the cost to the public purse of problem gambling between £260 million and £1.2 billion a year in England. Local authorities were asked to target gambling operators to ensure that all appropriate safeguards are in place to protect those most at risk of gambling harm. In response to this paper the shared service for environmental health in Rother & Wealden designed an inspection project for the betting shops. The aim was to reduce the likelihood and severity of gambling related harms on the youngand those vulnerable to gambling, in accordance with the Gambling Act 2005 – Statement of Principles. The second aim was to reduce the likelihood and severity of work related violence to employees by ensuring that employers effectively manage health and safety, given that theincidence of violence in betting shops against workers, often alone and at, has seen a dramatic increase in recent years. The Metropolitan Police estimate that violence in and around betting shops in London increased by 24% from 630 violent incidents in 2014 to 780 in 2016. Rother & Wealden’s environmental health officers (EHO) are authorised and experienced inboth health and safety at work and licensing. The Commission provided training on site for all officers involved in the project. A letter was sent to each betting shop explaining that an inspection was to be made for both licensing and health and safety purposes and an appointment requested. The EHOs inspected each betting shop using both the LLEP betting inspection form and a purpose designed work related violence form. Each inspection took an average of two hours, advice was given as appropriate and instant feedback confirmed in a handwritten report. Each business received a formal letter setting out the findings of the inspection. Overall compliance with both licensing and health and safety was good. The most common licensing issues identified were lack of plan, out of date plan, not displaying terms and conditions of the reward scheme, problem gambling literature not displayed clearly. Health and safety issues included risk assessments not available locally, out of date riskassessments, blind spots in shops (typically in the corridor to WC), lone workers vulnerability and lack of supervision in shop when using WC. Recent reports of violence included verbal abuse, robbery and armed robbery. Una Kane, Environmental Health Manager said it was reassuring that compliance was good and further inspections were not planned this year. Please contact una.kane@rother.gov.uk if you want more information.

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