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Trading Standards - inspections and enforcement

Our approach to inspections and enforcement

We carry out programmed visits and inspections at all types of business premises to:

  • Take samples
  • Make test purchases
  • Give general advice to help make sure businesses adhere to trading standards requirements

How we choose which businesses to inspect

We apply a risk-based approach to determine which businesses we should visit. Those that pose the highest risk receive more frequent visits. We take into account:

  • The type of business
  • The scale of the business
  • Trading history
  • Complexity of the product or service provided
  • Assessment of quality management systems

What happens during the inspection

In most cases, we make an appointment with the business to carry out our inspection. Trading Standards officers identify themselves with photo ID when they arrive.

During / after the inspection:

  • You are welcome to ask our officers any questions on trading law issues or report any concerns
  • Officers tell you of any issues they find during the inspection
  • Officers may supply you with leaflets or guidance notes to help you put any issues right
  • You receive a completed inspection form outlining what officers inspected at your premises

Visits because of a complaint

We receive complaints and reports of issues from a number of sources each year - the public, port authorities, other enforcement bodies for example. In many cases, we need to visit the business to identify whether there are in fact issues that need addressing.

In most cases, we will not give notice of our visit. When we arrive, we will clearly identify ourselves and show ID and explain why we are visiting. During that visit, we will:

  • Explore the issues
  • Ask the business for any information or documentation we require
  • Take a sample of the product for testing

How we deal with compliance issues

In most cases, the problems we may find during an inspection are minor. Our officers provide the business with:

  • A visit sheet setting out in writing the things they need to put right
  • Guidance on what they need to do to comply
  • A timeframe in which to correct things
  • Contact details for further help from Trading Standards

In a small minority of cases, we may have to take enforcement action. Possible courses of action include:

  • Improvement notices
  • Seizure of goods
  • Seeking an undertaking to desist from certain conduct
  • Issuing a formal warning that goes on the record of that business
  • Issuing a fixed monetary penalty
  • Prosecution for criminal offences
  • Post-conviction recovery of the proceeds of crime

Enforcement policy

In the most serious cases, we use our enforcement powers. Any action we take is carefully considered in line with our enforcement policy.

Our enforcement policies comply with the requirements of the Code of Crown Prosecutor and Government’s Regulators Code. You should read in conjunction with them.

Confiscating the proceeds of crime

We can take legal steps to recover money made from illegal activities. As part of an investigation, we can apply to the Crown Court to get bank records and have criminal assets frozen. We receive some of the money recovered to reinvest in crime fighting or community-based projects.