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The Trading Standards Service is responsible to the City Council for the enforcement of a broad range of legislation aimed at protecting consumers or regulating the way businesses conduct themselves with consumers. The list of legislation runs to forty five Acts of Parliament and several hundred pieces of related secondary legislation. Our major activities include:-
We aim to carry out the City Council's enforcement responsibility in a fair but firm manner. We will have due regard to the principles of proportionality, consistency and transparency. We will target resources towards those businesses or business sectors impacting most upon the safety, health or wealth of consumers or the economic viability of other businesses. Our primary enforcement techniques include:-
The aim of Manchester City Council's Trading Standards Service is:
"To promote and encourage a fair and safe trading environment for both consumers and businesses in the City."
This document sets out the general enforcement principles, policies and approach which the authority expects its officers to follow in all their dealings with the public, colleagues in other authorities or agencies and with businesses, no matter how large or small they may be. We believe that carrying out these enforcement functions in a fair, consistent, independent and practical manner will help to promote a thriving local and national economy.
Within this document "enforcement" includes advisory visits and assisting with compliance as well as more customary methods and formal enforcement actions.
This document is a public document, containing public statements and will be distributed as widely as possible. It has been drawn up after wide consultation with representatives of those likely to be affected by it and it is an authoritative statement of the current policies, practices and standards. Anyone who wishes to express an opinion about the Service, the manner of its delivery, its officers or their personal experience of any element of its activities is therefore positively encouraged to do so.
Principles of Enforcement
The authority and its officers must seek to secure compliance with the law and must act at all times with due regard to the relevant UK and, where appropriate, European legislation and legal precedents including the law regarding Human Rights. However, the Service subscribes to the policy of "prevention through advice," freely providing guidance to businesses on legislative requirements and associated best practice in an attempt to maximise the level of compliance at the minimum expense. Criminal and administrative sanctions are available to enforce this legislation and this document aims to spell out the policies which will influence how, when and to what extent such enforcement action will be applied. Enforcement is not undertaken to assist or support civil claims for redress or compensation.
The aim is to carry out the authority's enforcement responsibility in a fair but firm manner, with due regard to the principles of proportionality in applying the law and securing compliance; consistency of approach; targeting the enforcement action and with transparency of operation.
Proportionality - means relating the enforcement action to the potential risks, costs and implications of the actual or possible breach. The more serious the breach, the greater the likelihood of one or more of the formal enforcement actions being taken.
Consistency - means taking a similar approach in similar circumstances to achieve similar ends. It does not mean simple uniformity. Officers are required to take into account many variables when using their professional judgement to make decisions on the action they consider appropriate to a specific set of circumstances. Arrangements are in place to promote consistency in the interpretation and application of legislation. This is achieved through liaison with other authorities in Greater Manchester, the North West region and nationally through support of the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) and particularly its Home Authority Principle.
Targeting - means attempting to direct regulatory effort towards those businesses or business sectors whose activities impact most upon the safety, health or wealth of consumers or the economic viability of other businesses. The Service has a system to assess these risks in a consistent and objective manner. This takes into account such things as the size and history of the business, the type of goods or services it deals with and the procedures and controls it has in operation. The Service must also have regard to both local and national performance standards and indicators.
Transparency - means making it clear why particular action has been taken and what or when remedial action is required. Whenever possible, or requested, advice or guidance will be given in writing with a distinction made between legal requirements and best practice. An opportunity will be provided to discuss the matter and any rights of appeal, complaint or further representation will be advised. Transparency is important in maintaining public confidence in the Service's ability to regulate.
Requests for Advice
When a business requests advice or makes an enquiry we will respond positively and, without charge, provide expert and impartial advice. All information will be treated with the maximum confidentiality that the law permits. Of course only the courts can give authoritative interpretation of legislation but our aim would be to give, and publicly stand by, advice and guidance which carries the highest degree of certainty that proceedings are unlikely to result if the advice is followed.
Most contact with officers will take place when they are undertaking routine, unannounced inspections or when they are making enquiries about a specific consumer complaint or referral from another authority. On such occasions minor technical breaches are often revealed and these will be dealt with informally by the officer giving information, advice or guidance. Only in the most serious or exceptional circumstances will one or other of the formal actions be taken on such occasions.
Officers are given a variety of powers by the different legislation that they enforce. Subject to complying with the relevant criteria laid down in each particular piece of legislation they have both the right and the authority to exercise their powers without recourse to Senior Officers or the Courts. Once imposed by the officer each respective administrative action can itself give rise to an offence for failure to comply with its particular requirement. The most common administrative actions include -
Suspension Notice - issued under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act to prevent the further supply of goods which contravene safety requirements;
Prohibition Notice - issued under the provisions of the Road Traffic Acts to prohibit the driving of a vehicle which is overloaded until its weight is reduced below the legal limits;
The use of criminal prosecution is an important part of enforcement. It aims to punish wrongdoing, to prevent recurrence and to act as a deterrent to others. In their formal enforcement role officers are required to operate to the same rules and standards as police officers and have to comply with the provisions of the Police & Criminal Evidence Act, the Criminal Procedure & Investigations Act and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
Officers will submit a written report if any of the following factors are present -
they consider that a deliberate breach of legislation has taken place;
the safety of consumers has been or would have been, if the product had been supplied, significantly jeopardised;
the offence is a serious one; the attitude of the offender towards the offence and the offender's history of previous behaviour warrants action being taken;
there is considered to be an apparent reckless disregard of standards or repeated breaches;
there has been blatant disregard of information, advice or guidance;
the standard of the offender's activities falls significantly below that imposed by the legislation and that generally prevailing in the particular business sector.
Written reports will be considered initially by Senior Officers and then forwarded to the City Solicitor, who acts on behalf of the City Council in all such matters. Prosecution can have serious implications and the decision upon whether this course of action is justified and appropriate will not be taken lightly. The submission of a report will not automatically result in a prosecution.
Those persons responsible for an offence will be identified as the subject of any criminal proceedings to be taken. Where a company is involved, it will be the usual practice to prosecute the company if the offence resulted from the company's activities. The part played in the offence by the directors, managers, company secretary and others involved in the company will also be scrutinised and action may be taken against them where appropriate.
We will, during the investigation give every offender the opportunity to be interviewed, with legal representation if they so wish, and give due regard to any statutory defences, explanations or mitigation.
Then, when considering whether to prosecute we will have due regard to, and be guided by, The Code For Crown Prosecutors and the Home Office Circular on the cautioning of offenders.
Working with Other Regulators
In some instances the Service may have shared responsibilities with another enforcement agency. In these instances we will liaise with that other agency to ensure effective co-ordination, to avoid inconsistencies and to ensure that any proceedings which are instituted are for the most appropriate offences.
Below is the list of legislation enforced by Manchester Trading Standards.
Agriculture Act, 1970
Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1963, 1968 & 1972
Agricultural Produce (Grading & Marketing) Act, 1928 & 1931
Animal Health Act, 1981
Anti-Social Behaviour Act, 2003
Business Names Act, 1985
Cancer Act, 1939
Children and Young Persons Act, 1933
Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act, 1991
Clean Air Act, 1993
Consumer Credit Act, 1974
Consumer Protection Act, 1987
Copyright, Designs & Patents Act, 1988
Criminal Justice Act, 1988 (re. offensive weapons)
Crossbows Act, 1987
Development of Tourism Act, 1969
Education Reform Act, 1988
Energy Act, 1976
Energy Conservation Act, 1981
Enterprise Act, 2002
Estate Agents Act, 1979
European Communities Act, 1972 & Statutory Instruments made thereunder
Fair Trading Act, 1973
Farm and Garden Chemicals Act, 1967
Fireworks Act, 2003
Food and Environmental Protection Act, 1985
Greater Manchester Act, 1981
Hallmarking Act, 1973
Licensing Act, 1964
Licensing Act, 2003
Medicines Act, 1968
Mock Auctions Act, 1961
Motor Cycle Noise Act, 1987
Poisons Act, 1972
Prices Acts, 1974 & 1975
Property Misdescriptions Act, 1991
Road Traffic Act, 1988
Road Traffic (Foreign Vehicles) Act, 1972
Solicitors Act, 1974
Telecommunications Act, 1984
Theft Acts, 1968 & 1978
Timeshare Act, 1992
Trade Descriptions Act, 1968
Trade Marks Act, 1994
Trading Representations (Disabled Persons) Act, 1958 & 1972
Unsolicited Goods and Services Act, 1972 & 1975
Vehicle (Crime) Act, 2001
Video Recordings Act, 1984
Weights and Measures Acts, 1976 & 1985
Please click below to go to the City Council's Procedure
Manchester Trading Standards
1 Hammerstone Road
Tel: 08454 04 05 06 (9am to 5pm) (8.45am to 5pm)
Fax: 0161 957 8379