| Other defra.gov.uk sites:

Cefas service charter

What is Cefas?

Cefas is an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). We are an internationally recognised centre of excellence for research, assessment and advice on fisheries management, aquaculture and environment protection.

We make an important contribution to securing healthy marine and freshwater environments, and the sustainable use of associated resources, that will enable current and future generations to prosper. This includes providing leadership in understanding the challenges presented by climate change, and options for mitigation and adaptation.

Established for over 100 years, and with a turnover exceeding £50 million, we employ over 500 people - primarily in Lowestoft and Weymouth. As the UK's largest and most diverse applied marine science laboratory, we provide leadership in many areas. We help to shape and implement policy through our internationally renowned science and through our collaborative relationships that span UK government, EU, non-governmental organisations, research centres and industry.

Our core remit is to provide advice and support to UK government and its agencies. Our work takes us from freshwater to the open ocean, and includes both wild and farmed fish. Our influence and leadership spans the full spectrum of issues, including:

  • climate change impacts and adaptation
  • marine spatial planning and environmental licensing
  • sustainable fisheries management
  • marine biodiversity and habitats
  • fish and shellfish health and hygiene
  • emergency response.

This is supported by leading-edge capabilities to collect, manage and interpret a breadth of environmental, biodiversity and fisheries data.

To deliver our remit, and consistent with our vision, our ability to integrate a broad capability is becoming increasingly important. This includes going beyond traditional scientific and policy boundaries, through alliances and partnerships, to draw in socio-economic and industry perspectives. We facilitate collaborative action.

As a net running-cost executive agency, all of our work is delivered through contracts. By being commercially strong - with a clear business orientation in our delivery and a remit to exploit growing wider markets opportunity alongside our work for government - we build the skills that underpin our sustainable future. The margins generated from contracts allows us to reinvest in our business and science, and so maximise value to the taxpayer of our unique knowledge and facilities.

Standards of service

We endeavour to provide all of our customers with excellent service. Such customers include Defra, other UK and international government departments, the EC, industry, regulatory and enforcement agencies, local authorities and other organisations.

Standards of service specific to the needs of these customers are included within agreements and contracts. For example, the advice, data or other outputs required, how they will be achieved, the timetable for achievement, progress reports, and final delivery of the service to our customers. We fully discuss customer requirements both before and during the delivery of the work.

The particular standards of service for our Fish Health Inspectorate are included within The Fish Health Inspectorate and You.

In addition to these specified standards, we aim to achieve the following standards for our dealings with the public, businesses and non-government organisations:

  • sending out full replies to letters within 15 working days of receipt in Cefas.

In cases where it is not possible to respond fully within that time, eg, because of the need to consult an outside body or obtain a legal opinion, a holding reply will be sent explaining the reason for the delay, when a response can be expected and the name and contact number of the person dealing with the case.

  • seeing people within ten minutes of the time of their appointment at our laboratories
  • responding to telephone enquiries within two working days, in writing or by a return telephone call.

Enforcement procedures

We have adopted the provisions of the central and local government Enforcement Concordant. This commits us to good enforcement policies and procedures, based on agreed standards, openness, helpfulness, proportionate action, consistency and a clear complaints procedure.

In relation to our work on licensing deposits at sea under the Food and Environment Protection Act, Part II, we undertake visits on behalf of the Marine Waterways Division of Defra and may have to recommend enforcement action. If so, we will:

  • give advice clearly and simply and distinguish best practice from legal requirements
  • discuss problems with you and, where possible, try to resolve points of difference before recommending formal enforcement action.

How to contact us

For general information please contact our main reception.

We can provide general information, including leaflets, free of charge, and if there is a charge for providing more detailed information you will be told when you make a request.

Contact numbers and addresses are given below. Between 09:00 and 17:00 Monday to Friday your enquiry will be answered personally. For calls outside of those hours there is a telephone-answering service available.

If you cannot be advised or helped immediately you will be put in touch with a relevant member of staff.

Enquiries from customers about work that we are undertaking for you should be directed to the agreed Cefas contact.

Courtesy and helpfulness

We will be helpful, polite and fair in our dealings with you. We will identify ourselves by name when we meet, talk or write to you.

Complaints, comments and suggestions

We encourage users to give both positive and negative feedback on the way we operate or the services we provide so we can identify where improvements are needed.

If we are undertaking work for you and you are not entirely satisfied with the service you receive, please raise the matter with the Cefas contact who provided the service. Alternatively, and for other cases, please contact either Lorraine Blowers or Lynne Wright at the number and address below. We will do our best to put the matter right as quickly as possible. This will include, where appropriate, an apology and an explanation.

Any complaints, whether written or oral, will be investigated thoroughly, fairly and in confidence. If you need assistance in using these procedures Lorraine Blowers or Lynne Wright are available to help.

All complaints will be acknowledged within three working days. We aim to provide a substantive reply within ten working days and, if this is not possible, we will explain how your complaint is being handled and why it will take longer.

If you are not satisfied with the reply you can write to Mike Waldock, the Chief Executive (Interim). He will review the situation on your behalf and respond within ten working days. If this is not possible, he will write to you explaining why and letting you know when you may expect a response.

If you are not satisfied with Mike Waldock's decision you may write to a Member of Parliament and ask for your complaint to be passed to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (the Parliamentary Ombudsman). The Parliamentary Ombudsman is:

Ann Abraham
Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration
Millbank Tower
London SW1P 4QP

Email: phso.enquiries@ombudsman.org.uk

However, as already stated, she can only act when asked to do so by a Member of Parliament.

Or you can write to:

Rt Hon George Eustice MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for farming, food and marine environment
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR 

Telephone: +44 (0) 345 015 4033

What we ask of you

It will help us to provide the best service if you give us as much information and notice of your requirements as possible, and are responsive to our requests for feedback.


This statement is reviewed annually.

We will monitor the effectiveness of our complaints procedure and our performance against the standards in this charter. The results will be reported to the Cefas Management Board and will be included in our published Annual Report and Accounts.

Cefas reception (general enquiries)
Telephone: +44 (0) 1502 562244
Fax: +44 (0) 1502 513865
Email: reception@cefas.co.uk

Lorraine Blowers or Lynne Wright (comments, complaints, suggestions)
Telephone: +44 (0) 1502 524233 or 524563
Fax: +44 (0) 1502 513865
Email: CMBOffice@cefas.co.uk

Mike Waldock
Chief Executive (Interim)
Telephone: +44 (0) 1502 524233
Fax: +44 (0) 1502 513865
Email: mike.waldock@cefas.co.uk

© Crown Copyright 2015
Last Modified: 27 April 2014