The Trading Standards Institute
The Trading Standards Institute is a Government body that works to protect the public from unfair and unsafe trading practices. They enforce a wide range of criminal laws which are implemented to protect consumers, the general public and honourable businesses, and provide advice to consumers who have problems with goods or services they have bought. The institute’s offices are located across the United Kingdom and run by each local county council.
What power does the trading standards institute have?
The Trading Standards Institute works very closely with both the Citizens Advice consumer service and the Office of Fair Trading to regulate in order to create a fair and improved trading environment for customers, traders and the general public at large. The institute has powers in providing support to both the trading and consumer community with an emphasis on preventative measures. Trading standards work to regulate business and trade in order to create a fair and improved trading environment for customers.
What policies and/or laws does the Institute implement?
In terms of policy, trading standards will assist in the classification of a number of issues. The Weights and measures Legislation being of most notability making sure that all weighing and measuring equipment used for trade is accurate. Each local council appoints an inspector to asses all premises which use any weighing or measuring equipment. These can range from a small bakery utilising food weight scales or local pub spirit measures to petrol stations and weighbridges. Trading standards also investigate complaints where consumers have claimed to have been “short measured” or where inaccurate equipment is used. During these visits packages are checked, equipment tested and quality systems audited. Trading standards instruct and assist businesses and traders across the UK to make sure that they abide by Weights and Measures legislation.
Trading standards has also implemented a public health policy with a particular focused initiative tackling issues on smoking, alcohol and obesity.
What kind of advice do the trading standards Institute provide?
- Business advice: Trading standards offer a range of business advice and enforcement policies for all traders and businesses. These range from issues regarding licensing to consumer protection laws.
- Consumer advice: Whenever a consumer buys a good or a service, trading standards is available to inform you of your consumer rights. These protect you from being treated unfairly. Trading standards give advice on issues such as how to deal with Loan sharks – unlicensed moneylenders who charge very high interest rates and sometimes use threats and violence to frighten people who can’t pay back their loan. ‘doorstep crime’- (This can range from so called distraction burglary to rogue traders who call at your home using unscrupulous tactics (e.g. Inertia or Pressure Selling techniques) to sell their goods) to information for the local community on neighbourhood watch schemes, leisure and tourism.
- Animal welfare advice: Trading standards have a high influence amongst the livestock and animal industry from: farmers, hauliers and transporters of horses, to farm livestock, poultry, game birds and farmed fish. Trading standards assist in the regulation of issues such as the prevention of livestock disease and animal health licensing.
- Food advice: Trading standards also assist in food safety and food hygiene advice. Whether dealing with complaints about food standards to temperature monitoring and carrying out allergen assessments.
- Educational advice: Trading standards offer advice to schools providing workshops and seminars held across the UK to enhance and encourage the awareness of trade standardisation.
Location and contact details of trading standards offices
There are around 200 trading standard offices located throughout the UK and all are run through local county council offices. The trading standards headquarters are located in the county of Essex: contact your local council for more information on your nearest trading standards office.
The Trading Standards Institute and ITSA Limited
1 Sylvan Court
Southfields Business Park
Essex SS15 6TH