How Trading Standards works | Oxfordshire County Council

How Trading Standards works

How we work

We carry out all our activities in a way that supports those we regulate to comply and grow.

We ensure that information and guidance is available to help those we regulate to meet their statutory obligations. Where you need advice that is tailored to your particular needs and circumstances we will provide this, including through Primary Authority.

We use a risk based approach to target our resources, including in planning how we monitor and check compliance with statutory requirements. Alongside our immediate reactive response to new demands on our service, we employ a monthly tasking and coordination process to ensure that we target proactive and preventative work on areas of highest risk to consumers and businesses. We do this by analysing a wide range of information sources such as the consumer complaints received by Citizens Advice Consumer Service, reports from other agencies, work undertaken in other local authority areas, media reports, etc. We also consider forthcoming events that we may need to plan for. This analysis is reviewed monthly and actions are agreed that address the most significant potential problems.

How significant an emerging issue might be is assessed through consideration of a range of factors such as the scale of the potential harm that could be caused, whether the harm will affect vulnerable people, whether the people that might be affected could identify and deal with the risk themselves and whether there would be a high level of expectation that we would respond to the issue. Please see our complaints priority policy.

We deal proportionately with breaches of the law as set out in our enforcement policy including taking firm enforcement action when necessary.

Our service will be delivered in accordance with the requirements of the Regulators’ Code.

Working with businesses and others we regulate

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.

Helping you to get it right

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 licenses. Please refer to the fee schedule.

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

Responding 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

Requests for our service

We respond to requests for assistance that we receive, including requests for advice and complaints about breaches of the law. We will:

  • Acknowledge your request within one working day
  • Seek to fully understand the nature of your request
  • Explain what we may or may not be able to do, so that you know what to expect
  • Keep you informed of progress throughout our involvement
  • Provide clear advice where appropriate
  • Inform you of the outcome as appropriate

We measure our performance with regard to timeliness by measuring the time taken to resolve the request against the time received. We refer to this as end to end time and the average end to end time for 2012/13 was  18 days. Please be aware that a risk based judgment will be made by officers to determine whether a more prompt response is required.

We have a number of items in our reception to help with communications. These include large print leaflets and magnifiers for reading and a personal sound amplifier.

If you have hearing difficulties and would like to communicate with us using British sign language, we can arrange this but will need to do it by appointment as it will take a few days to arrange.

If you have mobility difficulties and the matter is not one that can be dealt with properly by phone, email or letter, we have a policy on providing extra assistance to vulnerable consumers. We may be able to come and visit you in your home to discuss your problem.

Last reviewed
04 January 2017
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