Criminals could ‘exploit Enfield residents’ after council makes cuts to trading standards team

National body slams local authority over jobs cuts to team which investigates unfair trading and illegal business activity, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Enfield Civic Centre
Enfield Civic Centre

Cuts to Enfield Council’s trading standards team risk endangering public safety and encouraging criminals, a professional body has warned.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) slammed a decision by the council to slash the number of posts in the team from four officers to one, prompting the manager to resign in protest.

It says the cuts mean Enfield could soon become the first local authority in the UK without a trading standards service, leaving no-one responsible for enforcing a host of laws designed to protect consumers and business standards. The council claims it will maintain the team.

Trading standards teams investigate unfair trading and illegal business activity. Last year, Enfield’s service seized more than 28,000 packets of smuggled cigarettes, 14.5kg of smuggled tobacco and 1,300 vapes after investigating upwards of 1,200 complaints and enquiries.

CTSI chair Tendy Lindsay said: “Local trading standards teams, including in Enfield, play a critical role in helping to tackle product safety issues, maintain food standards and combat illegal and unfair practices such as rogue traders, scams and doorstep crime.

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“If Enfield Council goes ahead with these cuts, then we are deeply concerned that this will send a signal to unscrupulous traders and criminal elements that the residents of Enfield are fair game for exploitation.”

One of the key priorities of the civic centre’s draft council plan, which was published in February, is to have strong, safe and healthy communities by tackling crime and antisocial behaviour.

The CTSI said trading standards would play a “key role” in supporting this by enforcing more than 290 pieces of legislation, tackling problems such as the underage supply and sale of illicit vapes and protecting consumers from poor quality and unsafe products.

The professional body warned the cuts could be challenged in the courts by way of a judicial review.

Tendy added: “We would urge the council to reconsider this measure in the interests of their local residents’ safety and wellbeing.”

A council spokesperson said: “Enfield Council will maintain its trading standards team and will continue to protect residents and local businesses by ensuring a fair and safe trading environment.

“However, due to the ongoing budget challenge faced by all councils thanks to austerity, inflation and interest rate rises, we have had to make difficult structural changes to the team.

“We continue to urge the government to give councils the funding they need to invest in vital, frontline services.”

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