Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, DVSA’s ability to undertake site visits for the purposes of both maintenance investigations by a Vehicle Examiner and/or traffic investigations (i.e. drivers’ hours, tachographs, load security, driver licensing and driver training) by a Traffic Examiner has been significantly reduced due to the various restrictions that have from time to time been in force across England, Scotland and Wales.
We have therefore seen the number of DVSA Desk-Based Assessments rise and this may well continue post-pandemic, as more operators embrace the available technology and migrate to electronic compliance management systems and remote working (at least in part) becomes the norm.
What is a Desk-Based Assessment?
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of a Desk-Based Assessment, it is essentially a remote audit of your compliance systems.
You will receive a letter from DVSA requiring you to submit a description of your systems (using a specific form that DVSA will provide) and specimen documents to them for review. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these requests are being sent to operators by email and you are required to submit the documentation and information requested to DVSA by email within a specified timeframe (usually 10 working days).
DVSA will then assess your systems and prepare a report identifying any shortcomings. You will normally (albeit, in our experience, not always) be provided with an opportunity to respond to DVSA’s findings (in the same way you would be given an opportunity to respond to a DVSA maintenance or traffic investigation).
DVSA will then prepare a report to the Traffic Commissioner detailing their findings with the very real likelihood – where there are any shortcomings – of a Preliminary Hearing or even a Public Inquiry.
When is a Desk-Based Assessment Used?
DVSA are primarily conducting Desk-Based Assessments in the following scenarios:
What are the issues?
In our experience, the level of detail included in the operator’s response to DVSA is key. We find that all too often, operators provide too little detail in their response and find themselves at Preliminary Hearing or Public Inquiry for issues that could have easily been avoided had the response to DVSA been more comprehensive. We are regularly dealing with Preliminary Hearings and Public Inquiries where, had the operator completed the form more comprehensively and had there been some form of dialogue between the DVSA and the operator to discuss their systems and the documentation produced, there is a very real likelihood the Public Inquiry could have been avoided.
What do I need to do?
Our top tips for dealing with a Desk-Based Assessment are:
For further information, please call 01254 8282300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org