William Eichler 08 November 2019

Trading standards services surviving despite being ‘hit hard by austerity’

Over 20 million illegal products have been detained by local trading standards services in the last year despite Government cuts, a new report has revealed.

The new study by the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers has shown that local trading standards services prevented at least £42m worth of consumer harm in 2018/19.

This was despite seeing their budgets cut by up to 60% between 2010 and 2018.

The 20 million illegal products that local trading standards prevented from reaching consumers included over 15.3 million potentially dangerous cigarettes.

It also included more than 1.3 million other unsafe products including toys, electrical products and cosmetic products and in excess of 4.2 million counterfeit products.

The Value of Trading Standards Report, which for the first time calculates the impact and value delivered in a single year by local trading standards services in England and Wales, also shows that £4.9m worth of Proceeds of Crime was recovered, and £26.5m was prevented from being handed over to ‘doorstep criminals’.

More than 1,100 people were prosecuted for criminal offences and a total of more than 317 years’ worth of prison sentences were handed down.

‘This report clearly shows the massive impact that local trading standards services have in protecting our communities,’ said Trish Caldwell, chair of the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers.

‘The work of local trading standards officers delivers huge value – from saving consumers millions of pounds to supporting some extremely vulnerable victims.

‘That trading standards officers have prevented over 20 million illegal products reaching consumers in the last year alone shows the scale of the threat they are responding to. Many of these products could have caused significant injury, and in some cases could have even led to fatalities.

‘This report shows the incredible value that local trading standards have delivered despite the significant reduction in resources that trading standards teams across the country have experienced in recent years as part of the wider reduction in funding available to local government.’

Steve Ruddy, vice chair of the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers, added: ‘The National Audit Office’s 2016 report on the consumer protection system highlighted how trading standards services have been hit hard by austerity and huge budget cuts over recent years.

‘I hope the evidence in this report will help remind everyone of the absolutely vital work done by local trading standards services and of the crucial importance of continued investment to protect individuals and communities from harm.’

Photo: Cambodia, P.I. Network/flickr

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