• IE
Choose your location?
  • Global Global
  • Australian flag Australia
  • French flag France
  • German flag Germany
  • Irish flag Ireland
  • Italian flag Italy
  • Polish flag Poland
  • Qatar flag Qatar
  • Spanish flag Spain
  • UAE flag UAE
  • UK flag UK

DVSA Desk-Based Assessments – How to prepare and respond

17 October 2023
In continued efforts to make assessments more efficient, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is using self-assessment Desk-Based Assessments to assess the compliance of transport operators across Great Britain.

This is a significant change from the standard practice of DVSA examiners visiting operators in person at their premises, and it is an effective tool used by the DVSA to examine compliance. We have seen a marked increase in the DVSA using Desk-Based Assessments and all transport operators should be ready to respond quickly. Here we discuss how best to deal with a request from the DVSA.

What is a Desk-Based Assessment?

A Desk-Based Assessment is a remote audit of an operator's compliance systems. Whilst in previous years this would have occurred in person, operators are now more likely to receive a letter from the DVSA requiring them to submit details of systems, and any relevant documents and evidence to the DVSA for review.

The DVSA will thereafter undertake a review and prepare a report assessing the operator's systems and identifying any issues. The operator will be given the opportunity to respond to the DVSA's negative findings, and then the DVSA will prepare a report to the Traffic Commissioner outlining its findings. If concerns are raised in a Desk-Based Assessment, the Traffic Commissioner may then invite the operator to address them – with the potential for a Public Inquiry should the Traffic Commissioner have serious concerns relating to the management of compliance.

When is a Desk-Based Assessment Required?

The following are examples of circumstances that can trigger for such an assessment:

  • When an application has been made by an operator to change or amend their Operator’s Licence;
  • When there has been a roadside stop and check of an operator's vehicle that has resulted in action being taken against the driver and/or vehicle operator (e.g. the issue of a fixed penalty notice or prohibition notice); or
  • At the request of the Traffic Commissioner.

How to respond

  • Be organised: Operators are  required to provide a large amount of documentation to support their answers including risk assessments, policies and procedures, training records, vehicle maintenance records and tachograph data. One of the best ways in which operators can prepare ahead of time is to ensure that its records and documentation is organised, up to date, and easily accessible.
  • Do not procrastinate - take immediate action: DVSA Desk-Based Assessments usually require a response within 7 to 14 days. Operators should avoid  delays in  starting to collate the information, because the response, if done properly, is time consuming.
  • Provide what has been requested: Operators should ensure that they provide all of the documentation and information requested, or if something is unavailable they must explain why. Failure to do so could result in unsatisfactory findings.
  • Be detailed and provided explanation: The DVSA not only requires documentation, but information that puts it into context such as what systems are in place and how they work. It will also require evidence that those systems are in place, in practice (such as signed training records and evidence of disciplinary action being taken against non-compliant drivers).

What are the consequences of not responding or providing an inadequate response?

Failure to respond or providing too little detail could result in a Preliminary Hearing or Public Inquiry with the Traffic Commissioner.

Ignoring the DVSA's requests is unacceptable and will likely result in action being taken against your business much sooner.

Ensuring you have appropriate and effective systems in place to manage your compliance is imperative and our Regulatory, Compliance and Investigations Team has the experience and knowledge to assist you. We can support you with any Desk-Based Assessment request and help you deal with any issues as they arise.

If you require any further information regarding the above, please contact Joanne.Witheford@dwf.law or Simon.Belfield@dwf.law

We would like to thank Lauren Slater for contribution to this article.

DWF Crisis Response 24/7 Helpline
Register to receive our hotline number to safeguard your reputation and protect your business.

Further Reading