Our Trading Standards department are responsible for the enforcement of a wide range of laws that impact on the everyday lives of all consumers, and underpin fair competition for business.
The Cabinet Office published the Enforcement Concordat in 1998 and sets out principles of good enforcement for local regulatory services.
We have signed up to the Enforcement Concordat and this webpage describes how our officers of the Trading Standards Service will carry out their duties in compliance with the Concordat principles. It also explains what you can do if you think that the outcome of an inspection or other action taken by an officer is wrong or unfair.
The guidance does not apply to investigations that are likely to lead to prosecution where different rules, such as Police and Criminal Evidence Act Codes of Practice and the Directorate's Enforcement Policy may need to take precedence.
- Officers have the right to enter and inspect business premises at all reasonable hours.
- They do not have to make an appointment and they will usually 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 at 12 monthly intervals, others less often.
- When circumstances demand, officers may also carry out follow up visits.
What powers do officers have?
An Enforcement Officer can:
- Test equipment
- Take samples and photographs
- Inspect records and documents and take copies of them. For example, where there is a serious safety risk or where items are required as evidence, they have the powers to issue suspension notices or to seize goods and documents.
It is a criminal offence to obstruct Enforcement Officers.
What are you entitled to expect from officers?
- A courteous manner
- To be shown identification (when required or if requested)
- Feedback from any inspection, such as information about problems, which have been identified, and guidance on how they can be avoided in the future.
- A clear distinction between what the officer is recommending you to do because it is good practice, and what you must do to comply with the law.
- On request, to be given reasons, in writing, for any action you are asked to take.
- Where there is an apparent breach of the law, a statement of what the law is.
- Reasonable time to meet statutory requirements, except where immediate action is necessary (for example in the interest of health and safety or fraud, or to prevent evidence being destroyed).
- To be informed when there are procedures for appealing against action that has been taken.
What to do if you think you have been unfairly treated
If you feel you have been unfairly treated by an Enforcement Officer here are the steps you can take:
- Speak to the officer concerned. They will try to put the matter right.
- If you are not satisfied, you can ask to speak to or write to their line manager. They will try to resolve the issue.
- If there is still a problem, you can refer the matter to the Chief Trading Standards Officer. It is probably better to send a letter giving all the details at this stage, so that a thorough investigation of the matter can be arranged.
- The Chief Executive of Caerphilly County Borough Council deals with complaints that cannot be resolved by the Director. Go to our Complaints page for further instructions.
- Finally, the Office of the Local Government Ombudsman is a completely independent organisation, which will impartially review the whole case.