The Policy Team has been recently taking a close look at the Lead Officer Framework and thinking of ways to improve it, in terms of CTSI support and engagement with Lead Officers and enhancing communication across the network. We have also been thinking of how we can future-proof the network and keep hold of the incredible knowledge and expertise already built up.
CTSI Lead Officers really sit at the cornerstone of CTSI policymaking, bringing to our attention upcoming changes to legislation and decisions by government that could affect how trading standards delivers its functions.
Sometimes these proposed changes weigh heavily on the already diminished resources available at local authority level for trading standards, or a practical point may have been missed, meaning that there could be a great difficulty in the application and enforcement of the proposed change. Sometimes the changes seek to remove trading standards involvement in an area which has been a longstanding ‘bread and butter’ area for the profession.
It is therefore imperative that we have our Lead Officers with their practical, day-to-day knowledge of the subject area to guide us in these conversations. I recently had an in-depth discussion with three of our Lead Officers on a single point of law which is now potentially problematic with the massive surge in online sales. As the trading environment changes, so does the need to have laser-focused vision on where potential loopholes or gaps lie. It is also important that we have evidence-based reasoning to fight our corner when needed, and a forward look at what may be coming down the line.
Over the past year, Lead Officers have helped immensely across a diverse range of topics to enable CTSI to present its position within important government dialogues. Whilst not an exhaustive list, and different portfolio areas will pop up as needed depending on what is going on in the consumer landscape, I highlight some examples below:
▪ EU Exit: input into the CTSI Think Tank and Report from E-Commerce, Metrology, Fair Trading, Civil Law, Product Safety, Travel, Intellectual Property, Food and Cross Border portfolios.
▪ COVID-19: input to create clarity for the profession on travel law issues and price gouging from the fair trading, civil law and travel portfolios.
▪ Health portfolio: consultation response on new government sanctions to tackle tobacco duty evasion.
▪ Food and Nutrition portfolio: consultation response on the enforcement of new government restrictions on promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt.
▪ Product Safety and E-Commerce portfolios: input into OPSS UK Product Safety Review.
▪ Animal Health and Welfare portfolio: input into Inquiry – moving animals across borders.
CTSI Lead Officers are also an immense help with CTSI media output, providing expert quotes for press releases or even appearing on National TV and Radio shows. Most recently we had CTSI representation on multiple episodes of Rip-Off Britain in relation to fair trading issues. There have also been multiple appearances on BBC radio shows in relation so scams. A lot of our press output on scams is driven by Lead Officers alerting us to new scams as they emerge.
The CTSI Lead Officer role provides an opportunity to contribute to and develop an ongoing specialism in an area of interest with positive benefits for personal and professional development. It is an instrumental role which raises an individual’s profile within the profession, providing an opportunity to sit on central/local government, business and consumer committees, forums and working groups and influence local, national and international government agendas. Public affairs skills can be developed in drafting briefing/strategy papers on specific issues of interest and concern. Ultimately, Lead Officers make a difference to the profession as a whole.
CTSI Lead Officers also receive free annual registration to the CTSP scheme, which is focused on continuing professional development.
Not all Lead Officers are employed within a local authority, but for those who are, their employer can also benefit from the Lead Officer’s increased profile which can have positive ramifications both reputationally and for planning and prioritisation. Often, CTSI Lead Officers, being involved in various committees and working groups, are the first to know about important policy/legislative changes or opportunities that could be of benefit. Material developed by the Lead Officer can also be used by their employer, such as media output and consultation responses. Ultimately, the employer is seen as being committed to the development of their staff and contributing to the furtherance of CTSI and the profession as a whole.
If you would like more information on Lead Officers or have any feedback on the Lead Officer Network in general, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org