Trading Standards Officer jobs(Also known as Trading Standards Enforcement Officer, Consumer Protection Adviser)
Trading Standards Officers ("TSOs") are responsible for monitoring and ensuring that traders meet legislative requirements. Their role is to protect UK consumers and ensure that items sold are fit for purpose and in line with legislation such as the Fair Trading Act, Prices Act, Trade Descriptions Act, Consumer Protection Act and Weights and Measures Act. A list of applicable legislation is available here. TSOs are, in the majority of cases, employed in the public sector. They are responsible for protecting consumers and businesses from illicit business and trading practices. The role can be split into three broad categories: Investigative - As a TSO you will be expected to liaise with consumers, businesses and the public to identify suspect practices and investigate whether such practices are an infringement of relative legislation. This will involve visiting premises, examining goods or experiencing services to see whether a product meets legislative requirements. Enforcement - If a practice appears to be in contravention of relevant legislation you will be expected to create a case file with supporting evidence. There is a pre-agreed enforcement protocol that a TSO should meet. For a minor infringement an informal warning will suffice. For more serious issues, as a minimum, you will be expected to advise a business in writing of the nature of the infringement and what action is necessary to resolve the issue. In certain cases a formal caution may need to be issued to a business which can result in prosecution, fines or civil or criminal conviction. In such cases the TSO will be expected to provide evidence and serve as a witness in any legal proceedings. Education - TSOs are, first and foremost, expected to educate and advise consumers of both their rights and appropriate practice. The work is likely to vary by location. TSOs are expected to work closely with other enforcement departments, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs ("HMRC"), police and local authorities.
SalaryStarting salaries will normally be between £24,000 and £34,000 although the area you work in will affect this. With experience salaries are likely to increase and it may be possible to move into supervisory or management positions. Salaries for supervisors are likely to be £35,000+ but will vary by region, role and the size of the team. There is also likely to be a defined benefit pension scheme available to all TSOs working as local government employees as well as life assurance and income protection benefits. There is a pre-prescribed expenses and mileage allowance available. UNISON is the main trade union for local government authorities and is active in petitioning for pay increases.
ResponsibilitiesThe work is likely to vary, and you will meet a lot of different people. You should expect to undertake the following roles:
- visiting premises
- carrying out routine inspections including collating evidence and taking samples as necessary
- investigating complaints from consumers
- ensuring compliance with legislation and making sure that a business is meeting legislative trading standards. This will involve identifying unsafe practices or faulty goods
- checking products for defects, checking that weighing machines are correctly calibrated and that beer and spirit measures are correct
- investigating advertising campaigns that are deemed misleading
- advising on technical and legal issues
- working with other professionals such as scientists, laboratories and lawyers
- collecting evidence and building case files including maintaining a database of inspections and actions outstanding
- presenting information in court or other public enquiries. This may involve giving evidence or providing records for legal proceedings
- keeping meticulous records of visits and actions undertaken
QualificationsThere is a series of accredited qualifications required in order to practise as a TSO. In order to get into an appropriate course you will likely need 5 A-Cs at GCSE and a B or higher in mathematics. There are two common routes to qualifying - on the job and via degree: On the Job It is possible to apply for a position with a local council and aim to study alongside your employment. You must complete all of the qualifications below before you can practise as a TSO. The qualifications are accredited by the Trading Standards Institute and form part of the Trading Standards Qualifications Framework ("TSQF"). The qualifications, from lowest to highest are:
- Foundation Certificate in Consumer Affairs & Trading Standards
- Module Certificate in Consumer Affairs & Trading Standards
- Diploma in Consumer Affairs & Trading Standards ("DCATS")
- Higher Diploma in Consumer Affairs & Trading Standards ("HDCATS")
- Manchester Metropolitan University
- Manchester Metropolitan University Graduate Diploma
- University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
- University of Teesside
- Queen Margaret’s University College, Edinburgh
- South West Regional Assembly
- Nottingham Trent University
- University of Wolverhampton
- You will need to be calm with the ability to work in potentially high-stress environments. For example you may have to advise and create a case for prosecution.
- Communication skills are paramount.
- Investigative skills
- Technical skills, and knowledge of appropriate legislation, as mentioned in the Qualifications section above.
- You will be expected to work efficiently with other professionals but TSOs are largely responsible for building and maintaining their own inspection records. You will therefore need to be self-motivated and well organised.
- In some industries you might have to use ladders or go on scaffolding, into roof spaces or work in factories or in outdoor conditions; an unfit person is therefore likely to struggle in these environments but not if you are office bound.
- You need to be able to think on your feet at times to try and resolve dangerous situations.