Trading Standards prosecution and enforcement sanctions policy


This policy is intended to provide a source of guidance for officers, businesses and consumers. Whilst we recognise that the majority of businesses and, or individuals wish to comply with the law, occasions do arise when enforcement action, including prosecution, must be taken.

We have the discretion of whether or not to bring proceedings before the Civil and, or Criminal Courts.  We may choose to do so when we are satisfied that the circumstances in which the alleged offence(s) when considered with one or more of the public interest factors outweigh the mitigating factors.

This policy explains the factors we consider both for and against before we institute legal proceedings.  This policy should be read in conjunction with our compliance and enforcement policy.

Prosecution and Enforcement Sanctions Policy

The decision to prosecute, bring enforcement order proceedings or to offer an individual an alternative out of court sanction is a serious step. Fair and effective prosecution and the use of enforcement orders are essential elements in ensuring the service meets its objectives of:

  • Objective 1: Developing our use of intelligence to scan and test the market place and tackle those organised criminal networks and unscrupulous businesses who deliberately, repeatedly or recklessly engage in fraudulent trading practices that harm the interests of consumers and legitimate businesses. Whilst rogue trading can occur in any trade sector we have identified the following that specifically impact our local communities:
    • doorstep crime and scams
    • cybercrime
    • illicit tobacco
    • product safety
    • second-hand car sales
    • intellectual property, and
    • food fraud
  • Objective 2: Supporting economic growth by helping businesses to comply with their legal responsibilities and enhancing public protection through delivery of our chargeable business advice services and through increasing the number of our business partnerships.
  • Objective 3: Engaging with the public, communities, businesses and partners to increase resilience and safeguard the vulnerable against scams, rogue trading and unfair business practices.

It is our duty to ensure that we make our decisions with integrity and we remain fair and impartial. This ensures that we achieve positive outcomes for victims, witnesses, defendants and our local communities.

As regulators we have a duty to review, advise on and prosecute cases or offer appropriate alternative enforcement sanctions. There are a range of enforcement sanctions available to us.  These are set out in our compliance and enforcement policy.

Every case we investigate is unique and will be considered on its own facts and merits. However there are general principles that we will apply to the way in which we will deal with each case. We will be fair, independent and objective.

The decision regarding enforcement action will be impartial. It will not be influenced by any personal views with regard to ethnic or national origin, gender, disability, age, religion or belief, political views, sexual orientation or gender identity of the suspect, victim or any witness. Nor will we be influenced by improper or undue pressure from any source.

Deciding to prosecute through the criminal courts and, or commence enforcement order proceedings through the civil courts is a serious step. Whilst fair and effective legal proceedings are essential to maintain law and order we acknowledge that even in a small case there can be serious implications for all involved.  This includes victims, witnesses and the defendants. When making the decision to institute proceedings we will apply the appropriate parts of the Code for the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that we make fair and consistent decisions.