Chartered Trading Standards Institute
CTSI responds to Government’s long-awaited Product Safety Review
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has welcomed the publication of a review to be undertaken by the Department for Trade and Business (DBT) that is examining the effectiveness of the UK Product Safety system that underpins the UK economy.
The consultation published by the UK Government’s Department for Business and Trade, seeks to reform the UK’s product safety framework, so the system is more accountable and proportionate, helping businesses to innovate, grow and create more jobs. Among the areas the Government will be consulting on, include:
- Changes to the regulatory framework
- Exploring the role of standards and testing
- Addressing concerns around the sale of unsafe products online
- Due care requirements in relation to unsafe products
- Introducing voluntary e-labelling
- Role and leadership of the Office for Product Safety and Standards
CTSI has been campaigning and raising awareness of gaps in the product safety system in the UK for more than a decade during which Local Trading Standards Services have been battling a marketplace which has been flooded by unsafe and substandard goods; while also contending with cuts to Trading Standards resources of more than 50% during this period. We welcome the opportunity to work with the Office for Product Safety and Standards to address concerns raised in the recent Public Accounts Committee report around weaknesses and limited data intelligence in the UK’s overall product safety regime.
Through engagement with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Consumer Protection, CTSI has heard from a number of stakeholders on the uphill battle they have been fighting to stop dangerous goods from entering our ports and borders and flooding our online marketplaces.
The announcement of the review yesterday follows DBTs indefinite extension to the use of CE marking for businesses that was announced yesterday. CTSI is concerned that the extension of CE marking will mean in many cases that regulatory officers will need to remain equally conversant with EU specifications, as they inevitably change, plus any UK framework. In the context of effective, uniform and consistent enforcement this will be crucially important, but this creates a potential enforcement stretch for already depleted resources.
CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: “We welcome the consultative approach of the UK Product Safety Review and the aims that it sets out to address current gaps in the product safety system and to fundamentally address issues that our members are facing locally. This is particularly crucial at a time when consumers are noticing price hikes more than ever with the higher cost of living, and trying to source cheaper products, which as we know from our own research often come with devastating safety risks. We hope that the review will also tackle some of the challenges identified by the Public Accounts Committee report which identified challenges including limitations to data and intelligence in the UK’s overall product safety regime.”
CTSI Lead Officer for Product Safety, Mark Gardiner, said: “CTSI welcomes the additional announcement yesterday about the indefinite extension to the use of the CE mark but this will also create a multi-layered and complex conformity assessment regime which could lead to risks for enforcement. For example, CTSI has concerns that without commensurate market surveillance resources there could be a risk that the UK becomes a dumping ground for falsely marked CE goods. This risk is compounded by the fact that the UK is now on the margins of EU market surveillance activity, no longer participating in the EU’s existing rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products, including CE marked goods. It is essential that if two legislative systems are in use that they are effectively aligned and have seamless interoperability, both now and in the future, and that essential product safety information is exchanged between regulatory authorities”
CTSI Lead Officer for Product Safety, Christine Heemskerk, added: “'The review is welcomed and timely and in times of austerity it has to deliver an improved outcome for consumers. Currently consumers cannot be confident that the products they purchase are safe, particularly when purchasing online. Products that can cause serious injuries or even fatalities must be prevented from being sold in the UK.”
In addition to this UK Product Safety Review DBT has also issued a consultation to undertake a review of the Furniture and Furnishings Safety requirements.
CTSI will be consulting with its members and key stakeholders to effectively respond to the consultation questions set out in the review.
Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is a national not for profit established in 1881 which supports the UK’s Trading Standards profession, and works to protect consumers and safeguard honest businesses. CTSI's members are engaged in delivering frontline Trading Standards services at local authorities and in businesses. www.tradingstandards.uk
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