Illegal practice strategy review

Closed 24 Jan 2022

Opened 27 Oct 2021


We are consulting on a revised illegal practice protocol which is available in the ‘related’ section at the end of this page. 

The GOC’s overarching objective is the protection of the public. Although not a specific statutory duty, we may act on reports about alleged illegal optical practice when necessary to protect the public.

Illegal optical practice (illegal practice) is conduct that amounts to a criminal offence under Part IV of the Opticians Act 1989 (the Act).

Our illegal practice strategy and protocol were last reviewed in 2015. Our current approach is reactive to complaints being received. We believe we can better use our resource to develop a strategy that links more closely with our overarching public protection function and enhance sector and public awareness of our remit.

We have carried out a review of our illegal practice strategy and protocol because we want to be more proactive in our approach to illegal practice and provide clarity on when we will take action and what action will be taken. We believe that more collaborative working to prevent illegal practice from occurring provides the best outcome for the public and our sector.  

The revised illegal practice protocol is available in the ‘related’ section at the end of this page. The main changes are: 

  • the addition of acceptance criteria;  
  • setting out our approach to illegal online sales; 
  • requiring early lawyer input into investigations; 
  • the introduction of a process for test purchases; and 
  • greater clarity about when we will consider a prosecution. 

An impact assessment is also included in the ‘related’ section at the end of this page.

Why your views matter

We believe that the revised illegal practice protocol will enable us to:

  • be clearer about our remit;
  • be clearer about when the GOC can bring prosecutions, and when alternatives to prosecution will be the preferred route, and why;
  • collaborate more widely to help prevent illegal practice from occurring.

We would like to hear your views on the updated illegal practice protocol before we implement the revised approach early next year.

The public consultation will last for a period of 12 weeks.