In June 2015 The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported on a case in which Essex County Council was fined after a novice climber plunged seven and a half metres from an indoor rock face.

The climber, a 15-year-old girl, was ascending a vertical wall during her fifth climbing lesson whilst being belayed by an eight year-old with no previous experience in belaying.

During the session the climber lost her footing on the wall and her belayer was unable to control her fall causing the 15 year old girl to fall 7.5 metres onto the floor below. She suffered bruising; both external and internal, as well as deep muscle tissue damage. Although the incident happened in March 2014 the girl still suffers pain from her injuries and requires on-going physiotherapy.

An investigation by the HSE found the instructor was not competent to run the climbing club session as she did not have the required climbing training and site-specific assessment.

The Magistrates’ Court found that the instructor allowed the belaying to take place without use of an additional back-up belayer and without direct supervision from the instructor. There had also been no use of a ground anchor or sand bag to counter the significant weight difference between the belayer and the climber. They also Continue reading

Transition to Online

On 8th June 2015 the paper counterpart to the photo card driving licence was abolished as part of the government’s “Red Tape Challenge” initiative to streamline regulations. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has now stopped issuing the paper counterpart and those that currently exist are no longer valid.

A new online system designed to make checking driver’s license information easier has replaced the previously used paper counterparts as of June 8th. Drivers who hold only a paper copy (issued before 1998), however, are advised not to destroy their license as it will remain valid for the foreseeable future.

Schools wishing to check on an employees license need their post code, National Insurance number and drivers license number. Handsam recommend that schools carry out checks on all driver’s licenses at least once per year.

Launch Issues

The goal of the streamlined service is simplicity; making it easier to look up UK driver’s license information. Unfortunately users are reporting website crashes, loading issues and other problems preventing users from accessing licensing info since its launch on 8th. Vehicle hire companies are experiencing heavy queueing across the country as staff struggle to use the new system and the blame is being put on a system that was rolled out too quickly and without adequate planning.

The RAC had previously warned that many drivers remained unaware of the new regulations even as they were days away from coming into effect. A survey by an independent website suggested that as many as 73% of drivers didn’t know they had to produce a code when hiring a car. The AA has advised motorists to hold on to their paper counterpart and continue to use it for the time being; presumably until the kinks in the new system have been ironed out.

DVLA’s Advice

The DVLA have fought back against claims that their new system is overly complicated: “It’s very easy to view and share your driving record. Just go to and search for ‘view driving licence’,” said Oliver Morley, the DVLA’s chief executive. Click here for a direct link.

They also advise motorists wishing to hire a car for travelling to contact their hire company ahead of time to make sure they bring the correct travel documents as smaller hire companies, especially abroad, may not know about the transition to online forms.

There is a phone service available for those who forget to obtain a code from the site that runs from 8am to 7pm on weekdays and 8am-2pm on Saturdays. For more information on the DVLA’s new online service, read our in-depth look at the changes here:

If you have any questions regarding the changes to the process of acquiring your license details, or wish to know how the changes could affect your role, please do not hesitate to contact Handsam at 03332 070737. Alternatively, you can email our client support team with any queries you may have at

Schools that are under performing will face more rapid interventions according to plans from the Queen’s speech 2015.

The proposed new legislation will mean that more schools will be making the transition to academy status. A new bill will primarily target schools that have had a “prolonged period of mediocre performance”.

The government plans to implement an accelerated targeting of perpetually under performing schools in England and have them join up with schools that are performing better under an academy partnership.

Although the aim of the bill is to ‘attach’ coasting schools to high achieving schools through the academy program, some argue that there is no evidence suggesting that simply converting schools to academies would raise their standards.

David Simmonds, chair of the association’s children and young people board, suggests that there is no evidence that schools transitioning into academies would see improvement.

“Like-for-like comparisons of academies and maintained schools show that legal status on its own does not bring the improved performance we need to see,” Simmonds said when talking to the BBC. Continue reading