Trading standards

Trading standards

We ensure people get a fair deal by enforcing pricing and credit laws, investigating misleading price indications and fraudulent trading practices, as well as ensuring the accuracy of goods, services and property descriptions.

Trading standards - advice to business

Northumberland County Council trading standards service can offer advice and guidance on complying with trading standards/fair trading legislation. We want to help new businesses get it right first time and reduce the possibility of costly mistakes.

Information is received from many sources and investigations are carried out into fraudulent trading practices and serious breaches of legislation.

  • Contact us and see if we can help you. Alternatively, if you would like to view our selection of business advice sheets, click here.

Business Companion
This is the national website for trading standards business-related information. Guidance on all aspects of trading standards can be found here, with links to a number of relevant resources.

The site provides interpreted, simplified and priority information, which covers all major legislation.  Businesses seeking advice should contact us, and they will be put through to the appropriate area team.

Trading standards - retail

We seek to protect both consumers and the honest trader by enforcing a wide range of consumer protection legislation. These laws relate to standards of quantity, quality, safety, pricing, consumer credit and animal health and welfare.

Officers visit and inspect premises to ensure legislation is being met. Samples of products are bought for testing and analysis, and advice is given to consumers and businesses in relation to the laws enforced by the department.

Underage sales
Restrictions are placed on certain products and services to prevent their sale to children. Goods such as alcohol, tobacco, electronic cigarettes, solvents, fireworks, lottery tickets, DVDs, games, knives, aerosol paint, axes and other weapons, and services such as piercing, tattooing and sunbeds, are restricted.

Trading standards control the supply of these by educating traders and residents, and test purchasing using underage volunteers. We are always keen to hear from residents and businesses who believe restricted products are being sold to children.

If you have any information regarding this, please complete a report form. Any information helps and you can inform us anonymously if you wish.

Contact us

Other useful websites

Illegal tobacco
Northumberland County Council’s public protection service supports the Crimestoppers ‘keep it out’ campaign, aimed at reducing the size of the illegal tobacco market across the county.

Earlier campaigns have shown how keen the public are to report information about the sales of illegal tobacco, especially to children. This campaign encourages more people to contact Crimestoppers if they know where illegal tobacco is being sold. This information is then passed on to trading standards.

Unregulated cigarettes enable addictions in young people, and reports are regularly received that these cigarettes are being sold to persons under the legal age. They also keep people of legal age smoking, encouraging them to smoke more for less. Many cigarettes now being seized are mass-produced specifically for the illegal market.
  • Anyone who has information regarding the distribution of illegal tobacco can anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
  • If you would like to report issues directly to Northumberland County Council’s trading standards service, please feel free to contact us at tradingstandards@northumberland.gov.uk or contact us on 01670 623 870.
  • For more information, please click here.
Product safety
The safety of household items can be taken for granted, which is why the trading standards service is working with manufacturers, importers and retailers to ensure we can – literally – sleep easy in our beds.

We enforce safety legislation on a wide range of products by investigating complaints, carrying out inspections and submitting test purchases to experts.
  • For the most up-to-date information about unsafe products, please click here.
  • To visit the ROSPA accident prevention website, please click here.
Weights and measures

Northumberland County Council is a weights and measures authority within the terms of the Weights and Measures Act 1985. The council employ a number of inspectors of weights and measures, who are qualified by the national measurement and regulation office, to carry out a range of duties.

As part of the public protection service, we aim to ensure consumers and businesses are protected against short weight or measure, and weighing and measuring equipment used in trade transactions is accurate and appropriate.

Inspectors conduct inspections and testing on a wide range of weighing and measuring equipment throughout the consumer market, including pubs, shops, factories and markets. They advise businesses on how to comply with their responsibilities under weights and measures legislation.

Inspectors provide advice and guidance to businesses on all aspects of weights and measures legislation and the council seeks to engage with local businesses to develop compliance in a co-operative and positive manner.

Inspectors receive information from many sources, including consumer complaints, and carry out investigations into allegations of unlawful trading practices and serious breaches of legislation.
 

Trading standards - advice to consumers

Together with Citizens Advice consumer service, we operate a helpline to provide clear, impartial advice to consumers and businesses.

Consumers with problems concerning goods or services should contact our Citizens Advice consumer service on 0345 404 0506. You can also use this line to report concerns about underage sales of restricted goods to children.

  • We have a range of leaflets for consumers which you can access by clicking here.
You can also refer to the links below for more information.

Action Fraud
Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, taking reports from victims of fraud and providing advice and support.
  • If you would like to report a fraud, or require guidance on how to protect yourself, please visit the website.
Report a loan shark
Loan sharks are illegal money lenders who often charge extremely high interest rates. Check if a company is licensed and if you spot a loan shark, or have borrowed money from one, you can anonymously report them by following this link.

For your reference:
Business approval register
Northumberland County Council are pleased to support the business approval register and the list of trading standards approved businesses.
 
businessapproval

 

The register has been set up for the benefit of both local consumers and businesses across the region. All businesses have committed to providing a high level of customer service and compliance with consumer protection legislation.

Benefits for business:

  • Use of the trading standards approved accreditation/logo above

  • Support from trading standards professionals and local authority trading standards services.

  • Customers will know you are reliable and trustworthy.

  • You will gain a competitive edge.

  • You will have inclusive website profile, online advertising and social media marketing.

  • Entry into the printed business directory of trading standards approved businesses.

  • The business approval register will be promoted to residents by Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Gateshead Councils.

Benefits for consumers

  • Members are local, reliable and trustworthy.

  • Confidence in trusted local businesses committed to delivering quality goods and service

  • Customers can read reviews and rate services

  • Full background checks are carried out

  • They are committed to complying with a code of practice.

To search for a business, please go to: www.businessapprovalregister.com
If you are a reputable and reliable business and would like to be considered for membership, apply here: 
https://www.businessapprovalregister.com/registration/ and a member of the Business Approval Team will call you, or Telephone0191 308 1911  or email enquiries@businessapproval.co.uk
Buying a used car?
Before buying a used car, you should refer to the free Car Buyers app for Android and iOS.

This app will help you conduct the most effective checks and ask the right questions about any car, so you can be more certain when purchasing. 
Scams
A scam is a fraudulent scheme performed by a dishonest individual, group, or company in an attempt obtain money or something else of value. Traditionally, scams are confidence tricks where an individual may misrepresent themselves as someone with skill or authority, i.e. a police officer, a computer firm or pretending you have won a prize draw.
 
If you think you have been subject to a scam, please contact https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
 
More advice can be found below:

Trading standards - animal health & welfare (livestock)

We strive to minimise disease and limit any pain and suffering experienced by animals.

Here you will find information on safeguarding livestock and animal feed hygiene, as well as how businesses can supply material for animal feed.

Safeguarding livestock
We minimise the risks and effects of diseases and infestations among livestock, helping to limit avoidable pain and suffering by animals. Our inspectors visit and inspect farms, markets and shows to advise businesses on their responsibilities and make sure current legislation is being met.
 
We receive information from many sources and will investigate fraudulent trading practices and serious breaches of legislation.

If you require advice or have any concerns regarding farm livestock contact us: Useful links
Feed hygiene
The feed hygiene controls are primarily intended to safeguard animal and human health and apply to all businesses that make, use or market animal feeds. As well as feed mills, this also includes most livestock farms and arable farms that grow, use or sell crops for feed use.

If you’re buying feed, the controls also ensure you’re given sufficient information to make informed choices. As food businesses, farmers and growers have to ensure hazards are controlled appropriately and they must register with their local authority.

For information relating to the feed hygiene regulations, the Food Standards Agency provides the following information:
  • animal feed businesses – how to apply for approval/registration
  • animal feed legislation and guidance
  • advice for the food/drink industry supplying material for animal feed use
For more information, read the feed hygiene and animal health guidance notes or go to the food and drink industry application form to supply material.

F
or further advice contact us:

Public weighbridge information

Here you will find vital information on public weighbridges.

Public weighbridge operator’s licence
Operators of public weighing equipment must ensure they can perform their duties competently and honestly by holding a certificate from the chief inspector of weights and measures. 

Applicants’ knowledge will be tested to ensure they can:
  • operate the weighbridge satisfactorily
  • complete any weighbridge tickets and documentation satisfactorily
  • understand basic terms associated with operating a weighbridge
  • understand their duties as a weighbridge operator
  • understand potential frauds that a weighbridge operator may unknowingly assist
  • understand how the accuracy of the weighbridge may be affected
  • perform simple arithmetic
Before applying, please ensure you have received sufficient operational training.

The scope of the certificate is limited to the type of weighbridge you will be expected to use. Should the weighbridge be replaced, a new certificate will be required.
Good weighing practice
Regular checks should be made to ensure:
  • there is clearance between the plate and surrounding frame. If the weighing machine operates using a lever bottom work, the place should swing freely endways.
  • the weighbridge is properly balanced when unloaded and the indicator shows zero
All operators must know how to maintain, balance and clean the machine, and know that the balance will be affected by this. They should be regularly cleaned to avoid any build-up, and in pit-mounted weighbridges pumping facilities should be available to avoid a build-up of water.

The most common cause of balance error is due to rain on the plate. Balance should be checked and adjusted more frequently throughout, and again as the plate dries.
Apply for a public weighbridge operator's licence
Public weighbridge opening times
Public weighbridges are operated by companies, usually for their own use, but sometimes to others for a fee.