Fraudsters to get police tip-off before searches under new trading laws


Jonathan Owen
Monday 26 August 2013 20:36 BST

Criminals will profit from the “unintended consequences” of new laws meant to protect consumers, the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is warning.

Under proposals within the draft Consumer Rights Bill, trading standards inspectors will be forced to give at least two days’ notice of routine inspections, and set out the reason for the inspection. With many cases of fraud, such as counterfeit alcohol and tobacco, uncovered as a result of routine inspections, this will amount to tipping off people who may be breaking the law and giving them ample opportunity to get rid of evidence before inspectors arrive, warned Andy Foster, TSI operations and policy director.

“The Government’s intention is to protect freedoms for the public but in our view they have gone too far the other way,” he said. “What it means in reality is that the only people that gain from this are the fraudsters and the conmen.”

The Government argues that a two-day warning system will cut costs. The impact of the new Bill is currently being reviewed by the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee. The TSI has warned of the “intended consequences of weakening officer’s powers”.

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