Surrey and Buckinghamshire County Councils have decided to build on the success of their Trading Standards teams to create a new joint Trading Standards Service.
This report summarises the rationale for this new approach and outlines the benefits for residents and businesses in both counties.
The Joint Committee has a responsibility to provide strategic leadership and direction, effective governance and oversight of the joint service. In doing so it needs to consider and agree the performance measures for the joint service for the year ahead.
Steve Ruddy, Head of Trading Standards
Amanda Poole, Assistant Head of Trading Standards
Lee Ormandy, Legal and Governance Manager
Phil Dart, Service Director, Buckinghamshire County Council
Yvonne Rees, Customer and Communities Strategic Director, Surrey County Council
Key points raised during the discussion:
1. The Head of Trading Standards introduced the report and expressed that the nature of crime is changing which means Trading Standards must also change to tackle this, he added that the merging of the two authorities ensures greater resilience, an enhanced profile, expertise sharing and greater opportunities to generate income. The Committee were informed that the new vision and service priorities reflect both Counties own priorities which include protection, economic prosperity, health and wellbeing and customer focus. It was noted that the services priorities comply with the respective corporate strategies as this was thoroughly considered.
2. The Committee were informed that the joint service was undertaking the use of intelligence to clamp down on rogue traders and use preventative strategies. Greater use of social media was being used to support this. Support for local business was also being increased and an increase of Primary Authority Partnerships (PAPs) had already occurred as a direct result of the new Joint Service.
3. Officers informed the Committee that the two areas that had not yet had performance monitoring measures implemented were customer service and innovation. The customer service element focused much around the service being accessible, these would be developed in time.
4. There was a discussion around income generation, the Committee were informed that this relates largely to the expansion of services for businesses, in particular increasing the number of PAP’s.
5. Officers gave the Committee an overview of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and explained that it regulates how authorities use investigative tools and tackle fraudulent traders and scams where individuals often take steps to try to hide their identity. Each local authority needed to have its own policies and procedures for using RIPA and this would continue in future. Where RIPA is to be used by the joint service it will first be approved centrally at a senior level within the service and then be subject to the systems and procedures in Buckinghamshire or Surrey as appropriate. All RIPA requests also need to be approved in advance by the Magistrates Court. In addition members scrutinise RIPA related activity regularly in both local authorities and both are also subject to external inspection and scrutiny. The most recent inspection of Surrey by the Surveillance Commissioner was very positive about the use of RIPA within the authority. Further training on RIPA for officers in the new joint service would take place later on in the month.
6. The Committee congratulated officers in Trading Standards on the good and timely work completed for the merger and added the service could now cope better when faced with a crisis.
· The Committee considered and noted the reasons for the creation of the shared service and the benefits that will be delivered by the new service
· The Committee considered and endorsed the new service priorities detailed in the report and the new service performance measures detailed in the report
Action/further information to be provided: