New report claims lax regulations are ‘killing thousands in UK’

Open University professor says the government is not doing enough to tackle air pollution and food poisoning

According to a new report published by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS), the UK government’s lack of regulation and law enforcement for pollution and health and safety is causing ‘thousands’ of unnecessary deaths every year.

The report, written by the Open University’s head of social policy and criminology, Professor Steve Tombs, states that successive UK governments’ failure to act upon air pollution and poor health and safety practices in private businesses is tantamount to “business-generated, state-facilitated social murder”.

Statistics from the report claim that 29,000 deaths per year are caused by air pollution; over 50,000 deaths are caused by health issues or injuries sustained or resulting from workplace conditions; and approximately 500 people die every year due to food poisoning.

Professor Tombs blames this on the government’s attitude towards pollution and a reduction in the number of independent inspections carried out across UK businesses.

The report claims that between 2004 and 2014, there was a 34 per cent reduction in the number of food standard inspections and a 53 per cent reduction in the number of health and safety inspections.

According to the report, local authorities are now giving 44 per cent of their environmental and health and safety regulatory budget to third-party contractors, which, says Professor Tombs, is one of the factors negatively impacting the public’s health and safety.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that “improving air quality is a priority” for the government. However, Professor Tombs, and others, believe that insufficient regulatory action is allowing companies to take advantage at the risk of public health.

Professor Tombs cited the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal as an example of why privatised businesses should not be trusted and need to be independently inspected on a regular basis.

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