16th August 2018

Safety & Standards strategy announced

Strategy for strengthening the UK’s product safety regime into 2020 launched

By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
We established the Office... to play an enhanced role in strengthening our tough and well-respected product safety regime

When the launch of the Office for Product Safety and Standards (Safety & Standards) was announced in January, the government said the organisation would “enable the UK to meet the evolving challenges of product safety by responding to expanding international trade, the growth in online shopping and the increasing rate of product innovation”.

The move was broadly welcomed by the CTSI at the time, with some reservations around the specific areas in which the office could prove effective, as well as its independence, considerations that were shared by the wider profession. Ben Richards, campaigns and policy executive at CTSI, said: “We hope in the short term that they can set out a strategic plan that provides clear guidance on the offices ambitions, the way that it will interact with local authorities, and how it will co-ordinate intelligence.”

Now, eight months on, Safety & Standards has published its long-awaited strategic plan. Among its key measures are:

  • A new national incident management team for product safety incidents capable of coordinating large scale product recall and repair programmes
  • Establishing a new website to support consumers with reliable information and advice about recalled products
  • Increased support for local authority enforcement teams at ports, borders and points of entry to ensure the safety of goods that are entering the UK
  • Close working with manufacturers to ensure they are compliant with safety regulations from an earlier stage of the production process
  • Developing tools and guidance to assist local authorities in improving risk assessments, identifying mistakes before they happen

In light of this, the CTSI has welcomed the proposals put forward. In a statement, CTSI said it was particularly pleased that the strategy:

  • Places intelligence gathering and enforcement at the heart of a sustainable product safety system that aims to build capacity with local enforcers
  • Establishes the Office as a supporting regulator to primary authority relationships, providing authorities with clear access to expertise
  • Recognises the importance of CTSI’s professional expertise and the value of our lead officer network to strengthen local authority capacity and capability
  • Introduces a plan to gather injuries data, which has long been sought by the profession and will help to clarify threats to consumers
  • Sets out ambitions to be prepared for product safety issues of national significance

CTSI commented that it “welcomes the collaborative approach set out throughout the strategy and looks forward to supporting the Office in its work.”

Consumer Minister Kelly Tolhurst said: “Our top priority is keeping the British public safe and we established the Office for Product Safety and Standards in January to play an enhanced role in strengthening our tough and well-respected product safety regime. [This] strategy will fulfil that promise, allowing consumers to buy products with confidence, secure in the knowledge there is a robust and effective system in place to keep people safe and hold companies accountable.

“It will also ensure that the vast majority of businesses that do the right thing and comply with the law are protected from the unfair competition presented by companies that bypass the rules and sell unsafe products.”

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