The County Council carries out visits and inspections at all types of business premises; to take samples, make test purchases and give general advice to help ensure trading standards requirements are being adhered to by all businesses within the county.
A risk–based approach is applied to determine which businesses should be visited, with those posing the highest risk being visited most frequently – taking into account the type and scale of a business, its trading history, the complexity of the product or service it provides and an assessment of any quality or management systems.
In most cases an appointment will be made to carry out an inspection at a business. The Trading Standard officers will identify themselves with photo ID when they arrive – unless the purpose of the visit is for surveillance or for a test purchase. You are welcome to ask the officer any questions on trading law issues or report any concerns to them while the officers are there.
The officers will discuss with you any issues that they have found and will supply you with appropriate leaflets or guidance notes or send them to you following the visit, to help you put any issues right. They will also give you a completed inspection form outlining what they inspected at your premises, and the form contains contact details for the Trading Standards Service.
How we deal with compliance issues
In the majority of cases, problems found are minor and the business will be given a timeframe in which to correct things. The officer visiting will provide guidance on what needs to be done, and the business will be left with a visit sheet setting out in writing the things that need to be put right, together with contact details for the officer in case of a later query.
In a small minority of cases enforcement action may be taken. Possible courses of action include:
- improvement notices
- seizure of goods
- seeking an undertaking to desist from certain conduct
- issuing a formal warning that will go on the record of that business
- prosecution for criminal offences
- post conviction recovery of the proceeds of crime
In the most serious cases the County Council will consider the use of enforcement powers. Any action that is taken will have been carefully considered and will be in line with the Council’s Enforcement Policies. The Enforcement Policies can be viewed below.
Confiscating the proceeds of crime
The County Council can take legal steps to recover money made from illegal activities. As part of an investigation the council can apply to the Crown Court to obtain bank records and in certain cases can have criminal assets frozen. Part of any money retrieved will be reinvested in crime fighting or community-based projects.