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GOC publishes plans to get tough on illegal sales

3 Jun 2011

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 The General Optical Council (GOC) has published a new protocol explaining how it will deal with breaches of the Opticians Act.

The Protocol for the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences sets out when and how the GOC will deal with individuals and businesses it suspects of breaking the law.

Offences that the GOC may prosecute include selling contact lenses without the involvement of an optician (including over the internet), testing sight while unregistered, falsely claiming to be a registered optician and selling zero-powered contact lenses illegally.

The GOC worked with its Stakeholder Reference Groups on the protocol to ensure input from the public and the profession.

GOC Director of Regulatory Services, David Howell said: “We take breaches of the Opticians Act extremely seriously and this protocol sets out the action we will take when we suspect the law has been broken. This may involve conducting investigations and bringing criminal prosecutions in appropriate cases, within the overriding objective of protecting, promoting and maintaining the health and safety of the public. We have begun to apply this policy, and in several cases the alleged activity has ceased following initial contact from us.”

The protocol is now available on the GOC website and sets out a faster process by allowing the registrar to decide to pursue a prosecution, instead of a committee as previously.

GOC staff will also attend the Trading Standards Institute conference later this month, to raise awareness of the Opticians Act among trading standards officers.

Anyone who wishes to report a suspected breach of the Opticians Act should telephone the GOC on 020 7580 3898 and select option 2.


For press enquiries, please contact:

Liz Carr
Communications Manager
General Optical Council
020 7307 3473

Notes for editors:

1. The protocol is available here:
Acrobat Reader icon Protocol for the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences

About the General Optical Council:
The GOC is the regulator for the optical professions in the UK. Its purpose is to protect the public by promoting high standards of education, performance and conduct amongst opticians. The Council currently registers around 24,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.

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