Trading standards officers make regular visits to all types of shops and business premises. Checks are made on the accuracy of all forms of weighing and measuring equipment; goods are examined and tested for compliance with the law relating to quality and safety; samples and test purchases made; price and offers checked against advertising.
Trading standards officers have the right to enter and inspect premises at all reasonable hours. They do not have to make an appointment and they will normally come without advance notice. They carry out routine inspections and may also visit as a result of a complaint. The frequency of routine inspections depends on the potential risk posed by the type of business and its previous record. Some premises may be inspected every six months, others much less often.
What powers do officers have?
In certain circumstances officers have the following powers:
to enter any trade premises
- to make test purchases of any goods or services
- to check out the provision of any service, accommodation or facilities
- to inspect any goods
- to seize and detain any goods
- to require the production of records and documents associated with the business or goods
The officer may also give you a notice with instructions on compliance with laws you may be breaching. You should comply with this notice but if you unsure or if you want further guidance or advice, do not hesitate to contact the officer.
The current enforcement policy (pdf) written in November 2003, outlines what businesses, consumers and residents can expect from enforcement officers. It protects the health, safety, welfare and consumer interests of those who live, work, or are affected by trading activities in the borough.
The policy also sets out principles for good enforcement by outlining clear standards and adopting an open and consistent approach. It explains the different enforcement tools available to officers: from informal advice given to new businesses through to seizure of counterfeit goods and equipment arising from a noise nuisance. Where legal proceedings are appropriate, the policy explains how evidence is considered and whether a prosecution would satisfy the public interest.