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DVSA Desk Based Assessment

You may have recently read about imminent changes to the way DVSA (formally VOSA) are to enforce legislation on the UK’s commercial vehicle operators – but what does this mean for your business?

At present, non-compliant operators are often only identified as the result of a roadside stop. Following an inspection at the roadside (provided issues were found), a subsequent investigation would be carried out where a DVSA examiner would visit your operating centre to check on maintenance or driving records – or sometimes both.

Roadside stops are very much a necessary evil and serve a purpose in identifying those operators who fail to adhere to the rules and regulations of operating commercial vehicles; however many in the industry consider the method inefficient in terms of time, cost and effectiveness. As per a June edition of Commercial Motor, a single roadside check for an unnamed supermarket can cost the business up to £4,000 due to the time-sensitive nature of its operation.

Despite around 10,000 roadside stops being carried out each month by DVSA officers across the UK, many non-compliant operators continue to fly under the radar. The Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) aims to more accurately identify which operators may be non-compliant but the true effectiveness of the system remains up for debate; a typically compliant operator could incur a minor issue during annual test (one example we have encountered – a misplaced Coke bottle restricting the seat-belt from fully extending!) – and be placed on a red or amber rating, increasing the chances of being stopped at the roadside.

A large number of operators are still on a “grey” rating for either roadworthiness or traffic, and again these operators are more likely to be stopped in order to gather information on their level of compliance. This means that a not insignificant number of roadside stops involve compliant operators.


The new DVSA Desk Based Assessment is distributed by the newly formed Remote Enforcement Office in Bristol aim to reduce the time-frame between the identification of non-compliant operators and bringing them to Public Inquiry. In conjunction with continued roadside stops and targeting using the aforementioned OCRS system, this new approach widens the net for catching those operators who are running in a non-compliant manner.

Operators will be expected to supply supporting evidence of their compliance to DVSA at regular intervals. It is anticipated that you’ll be asked to reconfirm details of your licence – operating centre address, company directors, etc. – but additionally, will be asked to send copies of safety inspection records, evidence of your defect reporting system, tachograph analysis for your drivers, etc.

Falling short in any area will likely result in further investigative action and potentially Public Inquiry if your systems do not meet satisfactory levels of compliance. Ignoring the requests for supporting evidence is not an option and will likely result in you being targeted sooner.

Ensuring you have suitable and effective systems in place to manage your compliance is now more important than ever. GRT are offering a free compliance check to operators in central Scotland which looks at all the areas covered by the new DVSA Desk Based Assessment – get in touch with us today to arrange your check.