Scotland-wide awareness campaign to highlight consumer protection issues

East Ayrshire Council Trading Standards Officers  are out and about this week supporting Scottish Trading Standards Week 2019, a five-day consumer protection campaign, aimed at raising awareness and highlighting the good work carried out by local authority trading standards in Scotland.

The campaign focuses on a range of core problem areas affecting the public, consumers and businesses in Scotland. The majority of consumer protection legislation is also EU derived, so Brexit has a clear impact of on this area of regulation.

With such a wide breadth of work conducted by trading standards services, each day of the week-long campaign is showcasing different areas of trading standards work including:

  • product safety
  • Intellectual Property Crime especially around online markets, sales of tobacco and NVPs to underage
    children
  • motor vehicles
  • Weights and Measures
  • prevention of scamming, particularly among vulnerable people

Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards Scotland (SCOTSS) is a coordinated partnership of 31 local authority trading standards services across Scotland,
sharing intelligence and good practice, and working collaboratively to ensure an effective consumer protection service despite severe cuts to public resources.

SCOTSS are also launching their new ‘Approved Trader Portal’, which draws together the approved trader schemes of seventeen different Scottish councils and is a one-stop-shop for consumers, presenting information to consumers about approved traders nearest to where they are. All traders on the list are fully vetted by trading standards and provide services locally using customer feedback as an assessment tool. The portal can be found at www.approvedtrader.scot

Also highlighted are new and innovative ways that Trading Standards are finding to protect residents from scams, embracing technology such as call blocking equipment and doorstep cameras to deter and detect predatory fraudsters. These scam prevention interventions are helping to keep our most vulnerable residents safe, confident and more able to maintain independent living, and with an estimated loss in excess of £9billion to scams annually across the UK, helping prevent organised criminals leaving a trail of personal and financial misery and loss across Scotland.

As an example, a nuisance call blocking initiative that identified residents at high risk of being scammed resulted in some compelling outcomes:

  • 2,831 call blocking units installed
  • 2.1 million Nuisance calls blocked
  • every £1 spent saved £59 (estimated individual and public expenditure savings
  • £8.5 million in savings

SCOTSS Chair and Trading Standards Manager for Dumfries & Galloway Council, Sandra Harkness says: “This is a great opportunity for Trading Standards to showcase what it does to protect consumers and support businesses right across Scotland. Work carried out by trading standards officers is crucial to local communities that they serve, not only in consumer protection but also in health, economic development and more.”

The Trading Standards Week campaign will focus daily on the following areas:

  • Day 1: Monday 16 September – Tobacco, NVPs and Underage sales
  • Day 2: Tuesday 17 September – Used cars
  • Day 3: Wednesday 18 September – Weights and Measures
  • Day 4: Thursday 19 September – Online markets and IP Crime
  • Day 5: Friday 20 September – Product Safety

Trading standards services and partners across Scotland are taking part in related activities each day, for example:

  • detectiondogs used to sniff out illicit tobacco
  • public events at shopping centres advising consumers on how to protect themselves when buying goods and services on the internet
  • showcasing all sorts of counterfeit goods to highlight the serious risks that
    they present
  • demonstrating the use  of specialist equipment in the field to test high capacity weighing equipment

Leon Livermore, Chief Executive at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said: “I’m a great supporter of SCOTSS and what they have done for local authority trading standards services over the past twenty years. Raising awareness of vital consumer issues in Scotland comes at just the right time and CTSI is fully supportive.
The joined-up approach that authorities in Scotland have adopted is the way forward to counter the wide-spread resource cuts to trading standards and is resulting in the best service possible for consumers and businesses.”

Scottish TS Week takes place 16-20 September 2019. Follow @socotss for full updates and follow #ScottishTSweek2019 for updates from across Scotland.

Full details of the week are available on www.tradingstandards.scot