Audit, Inspection and Safety

21.07.17

Watchdog slams local product recall systems as ‘not fit for purpose’

The UK has a “fragmented” product safety and recall system that is putting people’s lives in danger, a major consumer watchdog has this week warned.

Findings from Which? stated that major changes are needed to improve the system, including the establishment of a national body to deal with product recalls.

However, councils have responded by saying that a system overhaul was unnecessary, although they did concede that it needed “realigning” to best serve trading standards teams operating in local communities.

The watchdog’s report also said that the system was overly localised and confusing for customers, as there was no single source of information on product recalls for consumers to use.

Which? added that a lack of resources in local trading standards teams, who have lost more than half of their full-time staff since 2009, meant they were struggling to provide a safe service for residents.

Along with a standardised national body, Which? suggested that a website should be set up and publicised to place all information consumers needed on product recalls in a single “one stop shop”.

“The product safety system simply isn’t fit-for-purpose and its over reliance on a local approach to a national problem poses grave risks to consumers,” said Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which?

“The government must now take urgent action and create a new national body that has all of the tools it needs to get unsafe products out of people’s homes.”

However, the chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, Cllr Simon Blackburn, explained that council trading standard teams played a crucial role in removing unsafe products from sale, and that despite significant budget cuts and resource pressure, staff were still doing a good job on the front line.

“It would be unwise to think that their role could simply be picked up by a new national body,” he argued.

“We mustn't forget that it is manufacturers who are wholly responsible for the safety of their products - especially when faults are entirely outside the control of the consumer – and for alerting them to any relevant safety information, including product recalls.

“With firefighters dealing with three tumble dryer fires a day and electrical products being recalled at a rate of more than one a week in the UK, consumers need all the help they can get in finding out about the safety of their electrical products quickly and easily.”

Cllr Blackburn added that a new national database of product recalls should be supported by a major publicity campaign to help flag it up to consumers as a trusted one-stop site to check all electrical goods.

“Rather than a comprehensive overhaul, which is unnecessary, the product recall system needs realigning to best serve trading standards teams operating in local communities,” he concluded.

“Any change to the system should therefore consider how existing national regulatory resources, which are already working with local government, can better support trading standards team locally across the country.”

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Funding inequalities could destroy public services in rural areas

20/11/2017Funding inequalities could destroy public services in rural areas

Central government funding per resident in county authorities was almost 50% below large cities last year, with councils saying the situation cou... more >
Major growth investment includes £1.7bn city transport fund

20/11/2017Major growth investment includes £1.7bn city transport fund

The government has today announced that it will release £1.7bn of extra funding for cities ahead of Wednesday’s Budget. Prime mi... more >
Counties and districts clash over suggestion to scrap two-tier authorities

20/11/2017Counties and districts clash over suggestion to scrap two-tier authorities

A report suggesting that scrapping district councils could save £2.9bn a year has prompted anger from the District Councils Network (DCN). ... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Counties slam ‘secret and underhand’ city council boundary takeover plot

17/11/2017Counties slam ‘secret and underhand’ city council boundary takeover plot

Nottingham and Derby city councils have been accused of “secret and underhand” plans to expand their boundaries without proper consultation with residents or other authorities. The c... more >
Somerset council plans to cut 300 jobs over next two years

16/11/2017Somerset council plans to cut 300 jobs over next two years

Bath and North East Somerset Council (BNES) announced it needs to make £16m of savings over the next two years due to government funding cuts and rising demand. Its staff have been inf... more >

the raven's daily blog

Visual.ONS: How to compete with the big data aggregators

13/11/2017Visual.ONS: How to compete with the big data aggregators

Advertisement feature Christopher Gallagher, territory manager at SAS, explains how big data can be used by the public sector to find innovative solutions to common problems.  I have been really impressed by the work of Visual.ONS – the team at the Office for National Statistics, who are responsible for exploring imaginati... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Driving forward a healthier Scotland

10/11/2017Driving forward a healthier Scotland

Dundee City Council is leading the way in boosting electric vehicle (EV) uptake in Scotland, writes Rebecca Wallace from the local authority&rsqu... more >
A smarter approach to digital transformation

10/11/2017A smarter approach to digital transformation

Catherine Bright, Smarter Digital Services (SDS) manager, explains how a partnership of 12 councils across Kent and Surrey are jointly funding a ... more >
Delivering on estates

10/11/2017Delivering on estates

Sam Ulyatt, strategic category commercial director at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), on how a new framework can help public sector organisat... more >
Open for business

10/11/2017Open for business

Clare Moore, senior specialist of valuation and disposals at the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), explains how public sector bodies looking to... more >

interviews

‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

30/06/2017‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

Keith Smith, public sector business development manager at Virgin Media Business, tells PSE’s Luana Salles that health and social care orga... more >
HSCN: The enabler for a more joined-up public sector

26/06/2017HSCN: The enabler for a more joined-up public sector

Mark Hall, Chief Assurance Officer at Redcentric, discusses NHS Digital’s project, the new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) and what b... more >
Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

25/04/2017Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

Ahead of this year’s mayoral elections, Lord Kerslake, the former head of the Civil Service, tells PSE’s David Stevenson why the argu... more >
New social care funding misses the point

13/04/2017New social care funding misses the point

Clive Betts MP, chair of the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee, reflects on the social care funding released in this year’s ... more >

public sector focus

View all News