About Trading Standards | Oxfordshire County Council

About Trading Standards

Information about Oxfordshire Trading Standards.

Our responsibilities

We cover:

  • weights and measures
  • product safety
  • food safety
  • trade representations and trademarks
  • unfair contract terms and unfair trading practices
  • consumer advice and assistance
  • animal health and welfare
  • price marking and price comparisons
  • supply of age restricted products
  • licensing and inspection of explosives and petroleum storage facilities
  • safety certification of sports grounds. 

Our purpose is to keep individuals, communities, businesses and livestock safe from harm,

Download our service plan (pdf format).

What legislation does Trading Standards enforce?

Download a list of legislation (pdf format, 180Kb) enforced by Oxfordshire Trading Standards.

How we prioritise complaints

Our enforcement policy

The primary function of enforcement work is to protect the public, the environment, consumers and others. We carry out enforcement functions in in a fair, practical and consistent manner to help promote a thriving national and local economy.

We will take care to help businesses and others to meet their legal obligations without unnecessary expense, while taking firm action, including prosecution where appropriate, against those who flout the law or act irresponsibly.

We have adopted the Concordat on Good Enforcement agreed between central and local government, adhere to the Statutory Code of Practice for Regulators and committed to complying with the following standards:

Standards

We will publish our standards and make them available to businesses and others who are regulated.

Openness

We will provide information and advice in plain language and will be open about how we set about our work. We will discuss general issues, specific compliance failures or problems with anyone experiencing difficulties.

Helpfulness

We believe prevention is better than cure and therefore encourage businesses and others to seek advice from us to assist with compliance.

Complaints about service

We provide a well-publicised, effective and timely complaints procedure.

Proportionality

We will minimise the costs of compliance by ensuring that any action we require is proportionate to the risks. As far as the law allows, we will take account of the individual circumstances of each case when considering action.

Consistency

We will carry out our duties in a fair, equitable and consistent manner. While officers are expected to exercise judgement in individual cases, we have arrangements in place to promote consistency, including effective liaison arrangements with other authorities and enforcement agencies who may have a shared enforcement role. All investigations are undertaken in accordance with legal requirements and where appropriate, government guidelines.

Infringement policy

Actions undertaken range from providing advice, information and education to issuing oral, written and formal cautions and prosecution. In addition action may include other sanctions (eg issuing enforcement, stop, correction or prohibition notices, the seeking of injunctions, the seizure or suspension of goods and activities or action through licensing or registration processes). Recovery of the proceeds of crime or compensation may be sought where appropriate.

A decision on any particular infringement will be taken in accordance with this enforcement policy.

Prosecution and civil action policy

The decision to prosecute or take civil action is a serious step and has implications for the defendant, organisation, witnesses and the public. We comply with the Code for Crown Prosecutors so we can make fair and consistent decisions about prosecutions. There are two stages to the Code, 'the evidential test' and the 'public interest test'.

Stage 1 - The evidential test

There must be sufficient admissible evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each defendant on each charge. The defence case, including any available statutory defence, must be considered including how it is likely to affect the prosecution case. If, and only if, the case passes Stage 1 (the evidential test) must the prosecutor apply Stage 2 (the public interest test).

Stage 2 - The public interest test

The prosecutor must consider factors for and against prosecution, decide how important each factor is in the circumstances of each case and then make an overall assessment of whether the prosecution is in the public interest, any other enforcement codes of practice must also be considered.

Right to a fair trial

While immediate actions may need to be taken in certain circumstances to protect others, everyone who is charged with a criminal offence is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time and shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

How can Trading Standards use their powers?

What you can expect from Trading Standards

In all your dealings with us you can expect, and will receive, an efficient and professional service. Our team of officers will:

  • be courteous and polite
  • always identify themselves by name in dealings with you, and provide you with contact details
  • seek to gain an understanding of how your business operates and the pressures you face
  • provide details of how to discuss any concerns you may have
  • agree timescales, expectations and preferred methods of communication with you
  • ensure that you are kept informed of progress on any outstanding issues.

We recognise that your business will receive advice and inspections from other organisations, and we will do our best to work with them to ensure that you receive the best service.

How Trading Standards provides advice

We want to work with you to help your business to be a success, and it is important to us that you feel able to come to us for advice when you need it. We won’t take enforcement action just because you tell us that you have a problem.

We make information and guidance on meeting statutory obligations available.

Where you need advice to help you to meet your legal obligations we will:

  • Provide advice that supports compliance and that can be relied on
  • Provide advice that is appropriate for your circumstances and is not overly burdensome
  • Provide clear advice that can be easily understood and implemented
  • Distinguish legal requirements from suggested good practice
  • Ensure that any verbal advice you receive is confirmed in writing if requested
  • Acknowledge good practice and compliance.

Charges are made for business advice to established businesses and for primary authority. Charges are also made for the testing of weights and measures equipment on request and for licences. 

Inspections and other compliance visits

We monitor and support compliance in a number of different ways including through inspections, sampling visits, test purchases, advisory visits and complaint investigations. These visits will always be based on an assessment of risk.

When we visit you our officers will:

  • explain the reason and purpose of the visit
  • carry their identification card at all times, and present it on request when visiting your premises
  • exercise discretion in front of your customers and staff, where possible.
  • have regard to how you approach compliance within your business, and use this information to inform future interactions with you
  • provide advice to support you in meeting your statutory obligations, if required
  • provide a written record of the visit.

How we respond to non-compliance

Where we identify any failure to meet legal obligations, we will respond proportionately, taking account of the circumstances, in line with our enforcement policy.

Where we require you to take action to remedy any failings we will:

  • explain the nature of the non-compliance
  • discuss what is required to achieve compliance, taking into account your circumstances
  • clearly explain any advice, actions required or decisions that we have taken
  • agree timescales that are acceptable to both you and us, in relation to any actions required
  • provide in writing details of how to appeal against any advice provided, actions required or decisions taken. Once a case has been committed to court the appeal process is through the court system
  • explain what will happen next
  • keep in touch with you, where required, until the matter is resolved.
Last reviewed
23 January 2018
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