Some of the issues that Trading Standards deal with have been occurring for hundreds of years – for example short weights (buying something by the weight but not being given enough) or food adulteration (getting poorer quality food than what you paid for).
Modern day Trading Standards are legally known as ‘weight and measures’ authorities. This is because they were initially set up to deal with weights and measures issues. There is currently no law that refers to a ‘trading standards’ department. They all refer to ‘weights and measures’ authorities. It is probably fair to say that for the majority of Trading Standards departments, weights and measures only makes up a small proportion of the total work carried out.
Over the years these departments have been given more and more responsibilities in protecting consumers/members of the public. They can now be described as ‘consumer protection’ departments.
The reason we are called ‘Trading Standards’ is because we are meant to enforce the various laws governing the trade of goods and services so that consumers are protected and businesses can trade in an environment where everyone is following the law.
Your local weights and measures authority / Trading Standards department will be a part of your County Council, City Council or Borough Council (in London). There are advantages and disadvantages to having local authority based Trading Standards departments. Something I am sure I will discuss in the future.
In my next post I will go over some of the things modern Trading Standards departments currently do. As we will see, they now have way more responsibilities that they did in the past.