• Posted by Steve Playle Friday Jun 23, 2017

Jack of all trades – master of none?

If you’re having some major building work carried out on your property such as an extension, the chances are that you will use a variety of tradespeople to carry out the work. A builder will sort out the brickwork and the roof, an electrician will wire you up, a plasterer will finish off the interior walls and ceiling and a plumber will sort out any water supply and waste pipes. It is quite unusual to find someone who will be competent at doing everything that you need to a high standard.

Similar principles used to apply to Trading Standards with officers being particularly skilled in defined areas of work.  In my younger days, I specialised in product safety issues and I also dabbled quite a lot in the rather complex area of consumer credit law.  Over the last five years or so, however, with decreases in public sector funding and the retirement of more experienced officers who simply haven’t been replaced, more and more Trading Standards Officers, particularly those in some of the smaller Local Authorities, have to be a Jack of all trades. 

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While this brings even more variety into an already interesting job, there are limits to the capabilities of officers and more and more time can be spent in refreshing knowledge of different areas of law as different issues crop up. This is exacerbated by Trading Standards being more and more inclined to take on roles that should perhaps be performed by other agencies.  For example, Trading Standards have taken a national lead in dealing with the victims of mail scams and contributed a tremendous amount to make vulnerable people feel better protected.  While this work has proved invaluable and received well-earned plaudits, the interesting issue to think about is what trading standards functions aren’t being performed while we look after those affected by mail scams.

This subject is one of many that are up for debate at the annual Chartered Trading Standards Institute conference that takes place this year in Harrogate at the end of the month.  Lynn Faulds Wood, former BBC journalist and London Trading Standards ambassador, will be chairing what should be an interesting and lively debate and teasing out some of the main issues.

The conference is a great chance to catch up with colleagues from across the UK, find out more about new initiatives and share best practice in tackling rogue traders.  It is also a chance to engage with businesses that see the conference as an ideal opportunity to improve their understanding of and compliance with the regulatory framework.  As usual, TrustMark will be exhibiting in the main conference hall to promote its tireless efforts to raise standards as high as posible in the home maintenance sector.    

You can find TrustMark at stand J3, where they will be talking about their Trading Standards Approved scheme amongst other offerings and industry news.