OEP - Senior Investigations Officer - Interim Office for Environmental Protection

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Apply before 11:55 pm on Monday 27th September 2021

 

Reference number

148941

Salary

£35,895 - £40,613
For details of our pay on appointment policy, please see below under the heading ‘Salary

Grade

Senior Executive Officer

Contract type

Permanent

Business area

Interim Office for Environmental Protection

Type of role

Investigation

Working pattern

Flexible working, Full-time, Job share, Part-time, Compressed Hours

Number of posts

1

Location

Worcester (with potential flexible working)

About the job

Summary

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP)

The OEP is a new public body, being established with the principal objective of contributing to environmental protection and improving the natural environment. It will support Parliament in holding government to account on its environmental commitments and will help improve environmental governance through independent oversight and advice on environmental law and other matters relating to the natural environment.

The Interim Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) will be a division within Defra, which will provide independent oversight of the government’s environmental progress on a non statutory basis, in advance of the full OEP being legally established. The Interim OEP will exist from July 2021 and will be led by the designate OEP board, chaired by Dame Glenys Stacey. Natalie Prosser will be the Interim CEO-designate. Its key functions will be as follows.

• Develop the OEP strategy including its enforcement policy.
• Produce and publish an independent assessment of progress in relation to the implementation of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.
• Receive complaints about public authorities’ compliance with environmental law, entering into dialogue with specific authorities about complaints against them (while not taking any formal enforcement action pending the necessary legislative provisions taking effect).
• Determine approaches for how the OEP will form and operate, establishing its character, ways of working and voice.

The interim OEP will transition into the OEP once the OEP is legally created.

The natural environment is important for everyone and we aim for our teams to reflect the diversity of our society. Your personal qualities will be as important as your professional experience and applications are welcomed from all backgrounds.

Please note that in line with prevailing Government advice, roles may be home-based until Covid-19 restrictions are eased.

Job description

The Interim OEP Complaints, Investigations and Enforcement team will manage, maintain and operate a system and processes to receive and validate complaints submitted by the public about failures of public authorities to comply with environmental law. The team are also creating the policies and procedures to enable the OEP, once it is legally established, to then assess the seriousness of, prioritise and investigate cases identified both from complaints and from other sources of information and, if necessary, take enforcement action.

The Investigation team will oversee the development, maintenance and application of the OEP’s approach to investigations, and will itself apply that approach predominantly in relation to cases identified from sources of information other than complaints, for example the OEP’s broader function of monitoring environmental law. The investigation of cases deriving from complaints will be handled primarily by the Complaints team, with the Investigations team advising on the approach to investigation and providing support as needed. The Complaints and Investigations teams will need to work closely, cooperatively and flexibly, agreeing priorities and resource allocations across all of their areas.

The Investigations team will assess the seriousness and priority of case for investigation against the OEP Complaints and Enforcement policy. They will then conduct investigations into the most serious complaints to assess whether a breach of environmental law has occurred and negotiate with public authorities to identify appropriate solutions and remedies. Where a suitable solution cannot be found, they may also need to escalate cases to the OEP Board to decide if enforcement action should be started and support the OEP legal team with enforcement action.

The OEP will be a cornerstone of our national environmental governance system now we have left the EU. Its complaints, investigations and enforcement functions will play a central role in the OEP’s ability to effectively oversee the implementation of environmental law in England. This is a unique opportunity to join the OEP as it is established and help develop its functions from the current non-statutory arrangements into a fully operational and high performing service.

We are looking for individuals, from any background, who have the enthusiasm and determination to help us develop and implement an effective approach investigating important matters of public compliance with environmental law, supporting the principal objective of the OEP to protect and enhance the natural environment. The approach to investigations will need to cover a range of scenarios involving a broad range of different types of public authorities, laws, and degrees of complexity. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, we would love you to get in touch.

Information Webinars:

As the OEP is a new organisation, Defra will be hosting a webinar during the application period to provide potential candidates with further information about the OEP and the roles – for more information please visit the event page: http://oeprecruitment.eventbrite.com

Responsibilities

The role holder will be responsible for the following.

• Assist the complaint handlers, as required, with the receipt and validation of complaints to the Interim OEP by the team, ensuring they are assessed appropriately, escalated if needed and that any incorrectly submitted complaints are correctly signposted to the appropriate place.
• Support the of development and transfer of the Interim OEP complaints function into the full OEP complaints and enforcement service that will be enacted once the OEP legally exists.
• Contribute to the development and testing of the OEP Investigation and Enforcement processes.
• Once the OEP is operational, liaise with the monitoring environmental law team to identify possible cases for investigation in line with the OEP Complaints and Enforcement procedure and the OEP Strategy.
• Assess the seriousness and priority of those cases, recommending which should proceed through to investigation and the suggested approach to take in each instance.
• Conduct investigations into serious cases, managing the relationship with the relevant public authority, making recommendations to managers around remedies, serving information notices where approved to do so, and drafting investigation reports.
• Produce final investigation reports for approval and publication on completed investigations and report on investigation activity.
• Support the OEP legal team with enforcement action that the OEP undertakes e.g. Decision Notices, Environmental Review.
• Provide advice to the Complaints team on the approach to investigations stemming from complaints.
• Support the G7 Investigations Manager with stakeholder (e.g. environmental regulators, Ombudsmen and NGOs) and media engagement in relation to the complaints and enforcement activities as needed to maintain good relations and effective working interactions and maximise the effectiveness of the team’s work.

The above list of job duties is not exclusive or exhaustive and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.

Experience

• Degree level qualification in a relevant discipline, or equivalent experience.
• Significant experience of detailed work involving the consideration of UK environmental law is essential. Experience of delivering, investigating the implementation of, or enforcing one or more areas of environmental law is desirable.
• Experience managing casework in a case- or complaints-handling environment would be desirable.
• Experience of using analytical skills to explore issues and reach decisions based on evaluating a range of evidence
• Experience of negotiating an agreement or solution between parties.
• Experience of producing high quality, formal, written reports.

Skills

• Excellent analytical and decision-making skills in order to assess, prioritise and investigate serious issues.
• Effective negotiation skills, able to influence senior stakeholders to reach agreement with public authorities that remedy breaches of environmental law.
• Strong verbal and written communication skills
• Flexible and adaptable mindset, happy to work across a wide range of cases (and complaints if required) and change direction quickly in response to changing demands.
• Proactive approach to changing and improving processes/communications etc and identifying new ways of working and improved customer experience.
• Tenacious and able to continue looking and get to the truth in the face of sometimes ambiguous situations and information.
• Adaptable and competent to research, navigate and get to grips with technically and legally complex matters involving the implementation and interpretation of environmental law outside of previous areas of core experience.

Qualifications

Degree level qualification in a relevant discipline, or equivalent experience.

Behaviours

We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Managing a Quality Service
  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Delivering at Pace
  • Changing and Improving

Benefits

• Flexible working to allow for variations in your hours from day to day, suiting your needs, and where this is compatible with business needs.
• Generous Annual Leave allowance.
• An Employee Assistance Programme providing free and confidential 24/7 telephone advice service to staff.
• An Occupational Health Service (OHS) to provide a range of support services to help with the way you feel at work.
• Outstanding Learning and Development support including paid study leave.
• Salary Sacrifice Schemes such as Cycle to Work and Charitable Giving.
• Season Ticket and Rental Deposit Loans.
• Access to a huge range of retail discounts and offers through an employee discount portal.

Things you need to know

Security

Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.
People working with government assets must complete basic personnel security standard checks.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths and Experience.
Application Process

As part of your application you will be required to complete a CV setting out your work history, along with a 750 word statement of suitability providing examples of how you meet the essential experience and skills required for the role.

Candidates will also be asked for a statement of up to 250 words for each of the behaviours listed below. These behaviours will also be tested at interview.

• Making effective decisions (lead behaviour)
• Managing a quality service
• Communicating and influencing
• Delivering at Pace
• Changing and Improving

Should a large number of applications be received, an initial sift may be conducted using the lead behaviour, Making effective decisions. Candidates who pass the initial sift may be progressed to a full sift, or progressed straight to assessment/interview.

Interview

If successful at application stage, you will be invited to interview where you will be assessed on the above behaviours , strengths as well as experience.

Please note that you may also be expected to undertake a written exercise or presentation at interview stage.

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

  • UK nationals
  • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
  • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • nationals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland with settled or pre-settled status or who apply for either status by the deadline of the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals working in the Civil Service
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals who have built up the right to work in the Civil Service
  • certain family members of the relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals
Further information on nationality requirements

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

Apply and further information

Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.

Contact point for applicants

Job contact :
Name :  Please contact the OEP Recruitment Team
Email :  OEP.Recruitment@defra.gov.uk
 
Recruitment team :
Email :  defrarecruitment.grs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk

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