Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service is committed to maintaining legal compliance to help ensure that businesses do not take an unfair advantage over competitors or consumers. This provides a level playing field for all and allows consumers to have confidence in the local economy.
If you require consumer advice, wish to make a complaint about a trader or to report a matter to Trading Standards, please phone the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or fill out an online form.
For advice on the licensing of livestock please call the DEFRA Helpline on 08459 33 55 77.
Our approach to checks on compliance
What powers do officers have?
Officers of the Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service have the right to enter and inspect business premises at all reasonable hours. They do not have to make an appointment and they may come without advance notice. They visit only with good reason, which may be to carry out a risk-based inspection and may also visit as a result of a complaint or project. When circumstances demand, officers may also carry out follow up visits.
Officers can test equipment, take samples and photographs, inspect records and documents and take copies of them. It may be a criminal offence to obstruct a Trading Standards officer.
Under certain circumstances, for example where there is a serious safety risk or where items are required as evidence, they have the powers to issue written instructions or to seize goods and documents.
What are you entitled to expect from officers?
- A courteous manner.
- To be shown identification. View the Officer Authorisation List.
- Positive feedback where it is due, and where applicable and possible, a change in risk rating.
- 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.
- Where there is an apparent breach of the law, a statement of what the law is.
- To be given reasons (in writing) for any action you are asked to take.
- Where we take formal action we will confirm our reasons for doing so in writing.
- A reasonable time to meet statutory requirements, except where immediate action is necessary.
- To be informed of procedures for appealing against action that has been taken or advice given.
- The form that you have received along with this notice should provide you with most of the feedback and information you require about an officer’s visit. Should you require further clarification then please contact the inspecting officer.
Our Enforcement policy details our approach to law enforcement. This policy is designed to make sure that everyone knows the principles that Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service applies when enforcing the law.
It also provides a framework to ensure we behave in a fair, consistent and proportionate manner. We aim to improve regulatory outcomes without imposing unnecessary burdens. Our Enforcement policy has been written using principles endorsed by the following national documents and relevant legislation, namely:
- The Enforcement Concordat, March 1998, to which we are a signatory
- The Regulator’s Code
- The Food Standards Agency Framework Agreement
- The Code of Practice for Crown Prosecutors, Crown Prosecution Service
- The Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights
Policy under Tenant Fees Act 2019
We have powers to take formal legal action including fixed penalty notices for some legislation including the Tenant Fees Act and we have a policy to decide proportionate levels of fines for that purpose – see Policy under Tenant Fees Act 2019.
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act – policy
Occasionally, some of our activities will require the use of techniques which can be regarded as covert surveillance, for example, the investigation of criminal allegations. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000 provides the statutory framework for the operation of covert surveillance and the use of covert human intelligence sources (CHIS).
We are only allowed to use RIPA if the activity is absolutely necessary for the prevention and detection of crime, not for any other purpose.
The activity, and the intrusion that comes with it, has to be proportionate to the issues under investigation. Any activity must be authorised by a ‘designated person’ or ‘authorising officer’. In addition, approval of the authorisation must be obtained from a Magistrates Court before it can take place, and our activities are inspected by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office.
The Devon County Council policy on RIPA details the officers able to authorise RIPA activities.
If you think you have been unfairly treated, here are the steps you can take:
- Speak to the officer concerned. They will try to put the matter right but if you are not satisfied you can ask to speak to or write to their manager who will try to resolve the issue.
- If there is still a problem you can refer the matter to the corporate Customer Relations Manager who will oversee a thorough and impartial inquiry. It is probably better to send a letter or email giving all the details at this stage. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Finally, the Office of the Local Government Ombudsman is a completely independent organisation which can impartially review the whole case if the Council’s procedures have not proved sufficient. Full details of the complaints procedure are available at Feedback and complaints.