Source: Getty Images

The government is failing to adequately fund ways of policing areas such as the tobacco and vaping markets, says the ACS

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is backing a call for more resources for trading standards, the local authority departments that enforce consumer protection legislation.

The plea comes in a new “manifesto” from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), a professional body for trading standards officers.

It sets out three priorities for the next government: provide additional investment of £100 million over three years; create a “consumer champion” who would help drive consumer protection at a national level; and improve the regulatory system so that it provides clearer obligations for online businesses.

Polling of trading standards officers in early 2023 suggests that they are struggling to deal with the volume of intelligence they are receiving on the illicit vaping market, with 61% of enforcement officers admitting that they do not have the resources to tackle illegal trade in tobacco and vaping.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said that trading standards resources have been “stretched to breaking point” with the government failing to adequately fund ways of policing areas such as the tobacco and vaping markets.

“The work of trading standards is essential in ensuring the safety and legitimacy of the products that retailers sell. The main theme of this report is a need for more resources to put trading standards services on a more sustainable footing,” he said.

CTSI chief executive John Herriman, said: “Our manifesto sets out the bold and necessary action we believe is vital to protect consumers and law-abiding businesses. The UK’s trading standards profession is at the heart of protecting consumers, and we provide a significant layer of defence, but this layer has been decimated in recent years, with the consequence that consumers are at an all-time high of being ripped off, and susceptible to buying products that may be substandard, counterfeit or dangerous.”