The Trading Standards Service is part of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council's Public Health and Protection Service. This document explains what you can expect from the Trading Standards service.
We are committed to providing you with an efficient, courteous and helpful service, but where necessarily this will be coupled with appropriate enforcement action. This document tells you how we aim to do that and what standards we will aim to meet.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Trading Standards Service aims to operate in compliance with the requirements of the Regulators’ Code 2013 in relation to our dealings with businesses that operate within Rhondda Cynon Taff. In accordance with this code we wish to provide information about our service standards.
How to contact us
Trading Standards Service
Dinas Isaf East,
Telephone: 01443 425001 (Not for calls about consumer advice issues)
Fax: 01443 425301
If a consumer requires advice on a consumer law issue please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133. They will provide the consumer with initial advice and they will refer the matter to us if there is an allegation of a breach of criminal legislation that we need to investigate.
How we will communicate with businesses and consumers
We will communicate with businesses and consumers by any of the following means:
- by visiting the business
- by telephone
- by post
- by e-mail
- by fax
We will respect any requests that are made to contact a business or individual by a particular method of communication.
We will seek to work with a business or individual in the most appropriate way to meet their individual needs. Where necessary we can make information available in different languages using translation and interpretation services.
If someone contacts us we will ask them for their name and contact details to enable us to keep in touch with them as the matter progresses. We treat all contact with the service in confidence unless the business or individual has given us permission to share their details with others as part of the matter we are dealing with on their behalf or there is an operational reason why we need to do so. We will respond to anonymous complaints and enquiries where we judge it appropriate to do so.
Personal data will be managed in accordance with the Council’s Data Protection Policy.
Our approach to providing information, guidance and advice
We believe that “prevention is better than cure” and we want to work with businesses to help them to be compliant and successful. Our role therefore involves actively working with business, especially small and medium sized businesses, to advise on and assist with compliance.
Our team of officers have the appropriate qualifications, skills and/or experience to delver the relevant services. We have arrangements in place to ensure the ongoing professional competency of officers.
We will provide general information, advice and guidance to make it easier for businesses to understand and meet their legal obligations and we will provide it in a clear and concise manner, using plain language. In doing this we will respect relevant advice that has been provided by other enforcement agencies. Where possible we will look to utilise any relevant national guidance. On request we will confirm our advice in writing. If your request for information is of a more complicated nature we will tell you when you can expect to receive a substantive response. The Council will stand by the advice that we provide and we will communicate any update to the advice when this is appropriate.
We will discuss general issues, specific compliance failures or problems with anyone who is experiencing difficulties in complying with legislation, by responding to enquiries and visiting businesses when requested. Businesses may seek advice from us on non-compliances without directly triggering an enforcement action.
Legal requirements will be clearly distinguished from suggested best practice, codes of practice, guidance and other advice.
If a business wishes to enter into a formal Primary Authority Partnership arrangement with us under the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008, or a more informal Home Authority arrangement, we will use our best efforts to achieve a satisfactory arrangement.
Our approach to checks on compliance
We monitor the compliance of businesses in a number ways, including through inspections, sampling visits, test purchases, advisory visits and complaint or intelligence-based investigations.
When we visit a business an officer will:
- carry out the visit at a reasonable hour
- explain the reason and purpose of the visit
- identify himself or herself by name
- produce his or her identification card and authorisation on request or, otherwise, as required by the law
- provide a contact point and telephone number for further dealings with us
- be courteous, polite and exercise discretion in front of customers and staff
- be impartial and fair
- seek to gain an understanding of how the business operates
- allow a representative of the business to accompany him or her, unless this would interfere with the purpose of the visit
- where required, provide advice to help the business meet its statutory obligations
- explain the nature of any non-compliances and any actions that are required to achieve compliance
- provide a timescale for the business to implement any actions that are required
- provide written feedback about the results of our visits including, where appropriate, feedback on the positive aspects of the visits
We will carry out inspections and other visits to traders to check compliance in accordance with a risk assessment methodology, except in circumstances where we act on relevant intelligence or complaints or where visits are done at the request of the business or where visits are made to check that, following non-compliances, businesses are complying with our advice. We may also carry out a small proportion of random inspections in order to maintain a proper knowledge of business activity within the Council area. We will focus our greatest inspection efforts on businesses where our risk assessment shows that a compliance breach would pose a serious risk to a regulatory outcome and there is a higher likelihood of non-compliance by businesses. When carrying out our visits we will have regard to any published inspection plans for those businesses that are in a Primary Authority Partnership.
Some legislation requires the officer to give advance notice in writing two days before exercising a power to enter a business premises. However this requirement is subject to certain exemptions, including where the officer has cause to suspect that there has been a breach of legislation or where the officer reasonably considers that giving notice would defeat the purpose of the entry. If this or similar legislation applies our officers will provide the necessary written advance notice unless a relevant exemption applies. If such legislation does not apply the officer will only give advance notice when it is appropriate to do so.
When exercising enforcement powers officers will also have regard to the provisions of the Powers of Entry Code of Practice 2014.
When officers are investigating breaches of legislation they will be able to make use of any statutory powers that are available to them under the specific act or regulations. These powers can include entering premises to inspect goods, services, procedures, facilities or documentation, requiring documentation or assistance to be provided, taking samples, making test purchases and seizing items. (It should be noted that if a person obstructs the officer then this person is likely to commit an offence.) If the breach can be dealt with by remedial action, an explanation will be given as to why this remedial work is required and over what time-scale. Where immediate action is considered necessary, an explanation of why such action is required will be given at the time.
Risk assessment frameworks
We carry out our routine inspections and other compliance-check visits in accordance with a risk assessment methodology. We use a number of risk assessment frameworks that are devised and approved by relevant Government Departments to cover different aspects of our work. These risk assessment frameworks enable us to decide the frequency of inspections and visits to check compliance. The risk assessment frameworks that we use are as follows:
Inspections under general Trading Standards legislation
We use the Trading Standards Risk Assessment Scheme 2013 produced by the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers
Inspections of food premises
We use the Food Establishment Interventions Rating Scheme that is Annex 5 of the Food Law Code of Practice (Wales) 2013 produced by the Food Standards Agency. It should be noted that only sections A5.1, A5.5, A5.6 and A5.7 of Annex 5 relate to the work of Trading Standards.
Inspections of animal feed premises
We use the Animal Feed Law Inspection Rating Scheme that is Annex 2 of the Feed Law Code of Practice (Wales 2014) produced by the Food Standards Agency.
Inspections of animal health premises
We use the LACORS National Risk Assessment Scheme for Animal Health produced by the Local Authority Coordinators on Regulatory Services
Test purchases for age-restricted goods
In the absence of an official framework by the Better Regulation Delivery Office we use our Age-Restricted Sales Risk Assessment Scheme. Brief details of the scheme are attached
As part of our use of these risk assessment frameworks, we will give consideration to the combined effect of the potential impact of non-compliance on regulatory outcomes and the likelihood of non-compliance. If the performance of a business is seen to represent a greater or lesser risk than other businesses of a similar type, we will make a change to their risk rating when this is allowed by the relevant risk assessment methodology.
We deal proportionately with breaches of the law including taking firm enforcement action when necessary. When we identify any failure to meet legal obligations we will act in accordance with the Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council Corporate Enforcement Policy (pdf).
This document clearly sets out our approach to enforcement. Trading Standards aims to work with those it regulates and seeks to promote compliance by a variety of means. These range from providing support and advice to encourage compliance, to securing prosecutions and prohibitions where appropriate and necessary to protect more vulnerable local people from harm, and in the interests of our wider communities. The Enforcement Policy is intended to provide guidance for officers, businesses, consumers and the public, but it does not affect the discretion of the Council to take legal proceedings where this is considered to be in the public interest.
Our fees and charges
Currently we only charge fees for two areas of work:
The first area where we charge a fee is in relation to the testing and verification of equipment under the Weights and Measures Act 1985.
These fees are based on the previous national scale of fees produced by the Local Authority Coordinators on Regulatory Services (LACORS). As LACORS no longer exists we use the last available set of LACORS fees, but usually increasing them by the rate of inflation each year.
The second area where we charge a fee is in relation to the approval of feed business establishments. These fees are specified in Schedule 3 of the Feed (Hygiene and Enforcement) (Wales) Regulations 2005 via regulation 14 of those regulations.
In the interest of clarity, we confirm that all of the fees we charge are not affected by the level of compliance of the individual business.
Routes to appeal
Businesses and individuals can appeal against a regulatory decision or action taken by an officer under the Public Health and Protection Appeal Procedure. We will provide a print copy of the appeals procedure to businesses and individuals on request.
This appeal procedure allows businesses and individuals to challenge a regulatory decision made by enforcement officers. Regulatory decisions include advice that is provided, the actions required to be taken by the business or individual and the enforcement related -decisions taken by officers.
However this appeal procedure only applies if there are no other relevant mechanisms or controls within the legislative process. Therefore this procedure applies in circumstances when the legislation that is being enforced does not contain a statutory appeal mechanism that covers the particular action taken by the officer. (An example of this would be an appeal to the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court.) In particular, this appeal procedure does not allow a business or individual to appeal against a decision to prosecute them or to offer them the opportunity to accept a simple caution. This is because the activities of the UK Courts are fully compliant with Human Rights legislation and the judicial system has a comprehensive system of checks and balances in place, including various mechanisms for appeals to higher courts.
It should be noted that an appeal against an action taken is quite distinct from making a complaint about the general conduct or way in which an officer has behaved, which would be covered by the Council’s Corporate Complaints and Concerns Policy. Any allegation of misconduct, rudeness or unnecessary delay made against an officer will need to be investigated under the Council’s Comments, Compliments and Complaints Procedure.
Complaints and comments about our service
We manage complaints and comments about our service in accordance with the Council’s Comments, Compliments and Complaints Procedure.
We value feedback from users to help us to ensure we keep doing the right things and make changes where we need to. General comments about our service can also be made to the Service Director Public Health and Protection, Ty Elai, Dinas Isaf East, Williamstown, Tonypandy CF40 1NY. Any feedback that we receive will be considered and responded to.
Details of our performance against the service standards
We are committed to being transparent in our activities. Our work programme is carried out in collaboration with Merthyr Tydfil Trading Standards. Details are contained in our current Trading Standards Framework Service Delivery Plan.
We publish a range of information so that you can see what we are doing. This mainly consists of information on the satisfaction surveys that we carry out from time to time.
This is how we performed against our service standards during 2014-15:
Business and consumer satisfaction surveys
- 100% of businesses, when surveyed, said they were very satisfied or satisfied with the overall service provided by Trading Standards.
- 100% of businesses said they were treated fairly by Trading Standards.
- 96% of businesses said that it was made clear what they needed to do to meet legal requirements.
- 97.2% of businesses said the advice they received during a visit was excellent or good.
Complaints against us
- During 2014-15 we received 4 complaints under the Complaints and Concerns Policy in relation to our enforcement activities and our compliance with the Enforcement Policy and the Regulators’ Code. Three of the complaints were not upheld at the first stage of the process. The fourth complaint was not upheld at the first and second stages of the process, so the complainant complained to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman decided not to overrule our decision.
Appeals against our decisions
- No appeals were made against our decisions were made under the Public Health & Protection Appeal Procedure 2014.
- No appeals against regulatory decisions made by Trading Standards were made under statutory appeal mechanisms.