Trading standards is the local government service that works to protect consumers and support legitimate business.
While trading standards perform a number of functions, all 31 services delivered across the 32 Scottish local authorities, have a statutory obligation to:
• enforce fair trading
• combat illegal trading
• monitor product safety
• address under-age sales
• verify weights and measures.
The daily work of a Trading Standards Officer (TSO) involves responding to and investigating consumer complaints and conducting routine inspection of businesses for compliance with legislation. Where it is believed a criminal offence has been committed a report will be prepared for submission to the Procurator Fiscal Service. In serious cases where the collective interests of consumers are being harmed, Trading Standards can apply to the Courts for enforcement orders (similar to interdicts) to stop the infringing activities.
TSOs have various powers granted to them under the legislation that they enforce. These include the ability to enter and inspect premises, examine goods and conduct test purchases. In particular circumstances they may also enter a premises under warrant and seize goods and documents as evidence.
Most local authorities also deliver business advice, operate trusted trader schemes and actively work to stop consumers suffering detriment through education, advice and debt counselling.
In short, your local council runs a trading standards service that works to (1) protect consumers from illegal trading practices and (2) support the business community to comply with consumer protection legislation.
To find out more about the work of your local trading standards service, visit your local council’s website which you can find in the Find Local Advice search tool.