FOI Request - Trading Standards Staffing & Services

Request 101000264205

I am looking at the impact of the reductions on trading standards or consumer protection budgets over the last 5 years. I am seeking information under the FoI rules. Could you please provide me with the following:

1. For each year from financial year 2009/10 to the current financial year (2014/15) – please give me the number of full-time equivalent posts in the trading standards department (also known as consumer protection department in some councils).

2. Since financial year 2009/10, are there any services which the trading standards (consumer protection) department no longer offers, e.g. offering advice on consumers statutory rights, advising businesses on legislation, investigating breaches of consumer protection, inspecting traders premises, prosecuting traders who commit serious offences, any other services which the department offered in 2009-10 but does not offer now.

3. For each financial year from 2009/10 to 2013/14:
i, How many complaints have been received by the trading standards department (or consumer protection department).

ii, How many complaints were investigated?

iii, How many resulted in a prosecution?

Iv, and how many resulted in advice being given to the party under investigation?

4. For each year from 2009/10 to 2013/14 how many complaints have been received by trading standards (consumer protection departments) from members of the public about the way complaints were being investigated? How many of these related to the time it was taking to investigate a complaint?

Response 24-07-2014

1.  2009/10 - 7.7

     2010/11 - 7.7

     2011/12 - 7.7

     2012/13 - 7.4

     2013/14 - 6.0

     2014/15 - 6.0

2.  The council no longer offers a 'walk in' consumer advice service. Consumers are required to contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service first. They refer complaints to Trading Standards as necessary.

3.  2009/10

1298 complaints received. The term 'investigate' is open to interpretation; for example a complaint may be considered and a decision taken not to take any action or it may be resolved by advice. Moray Trading Standards uses the following definition:-

What is an Investigation?

Investigations are triggered when an officer considers that the circumstances may lead to formal action, i.e.

•          Report to Procurator Fiscal

•          Enterprise Act action

•          Suspension notice, fixed penalty notice, improvement notice or similar.

An investigation should always be recorded if an officer…

•          Takes a witness statement

•          Uses statutory power triggered by suspicion or belief of an offence.

•          Uses communications data request

•          Uses surveillance

Checking on minor non-compliances does not amount to an investigation.

There were 12 investigations as a result of complaints.

Trading Standards reported 4 cases to the Procurator Fiscal.

We do not hold statistical information on the number of complaints that result in advice to the party under investigation.

2010/11

1283 complaints received.

There were 9 investigations resulting from complaints.

Trading Standards reported 5 cases to the Procurator Fiscal.

2011/12

1219 complaints received.

There were 22 Investigations resulting from complaints. Please note that the method of recording 'investigations' changed in 2011/12 resulting in more actions being classified as investigations.

Trading Standards reported 4 cases to the Procurator Fiscal.

2012/13

1262 complaints received.

There were 25 Investigations resulting from complaints.

Trading Standards reported 5 cases to the Procurator Fiscal.

2013/14

943 complaints received.

There were 26 Investigations resulting from complaints.

Trading Standards reported 6 cases to the Procurator Fiscal.

2014/15

220 complaints received so far.

There have been 12 Investigations resulting from complaints so far.

Trading Standards have reported 2 cases to the Procurator Fiscal so far.

 

4.  We do not hold this information for the period before December 2012.

December 2012 to March 2013 – 3 complaints

2013/14 – 4 complaints

2014/15 – no complaints so far.

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