Protecting the public – London Trading Standards Week launches with projects success

Cracking down on the sale of unsafe used cars often sold with counterfeit car dealer stamps and service books is one of the key projects being championed by London Trading Standards Week.

With the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) being expanded in London from October 25, the importance of Operation Regal, which concentrates on the sale of used cars, is a high priority.

To highlight the work of London Trading Standards officers, from Monday, October 18, LTS Week will kick off by showcasing the various successful projects being carried out.

Tackling rogue elements in the rental sector and ensuring illegitimate products aren’t kept in safe storage are some of the other initiatives being carried out.

Day one focuses on an overview of the key areas, including Client Money Protection (CMP) targeting letting agents that fail to comply with laws to safeguard tenants and landlords.

Operation Regal – an initiative that guards against the supply of unsafe, substandard used vehicles by traders within the London region and the launch of the Tick Box scheme regarding self-storage are also key areas of concern.

The CMP project aims to tighten the renting sector to ensure that lettings agents follow money and legal requirements. Trading Standards officers have been issuing fines of up to £30,000 in a London-wide enforcement operation.

More than 220 breaches have been identified and penalty notices served with a value of more than £1.9million.

Cenred Elworthy, London Trading Standards, said: “As part of LTS Week we have put together Legally Letting, a guide to the law for landlords and tenants. It includes information on what to look out for to ensure they are protected, that agents are legitimate and how they can report concerns.”

Operation Regal is an initiative concentrating on the sale of used cars in London. It aims to crack down on traders with misleading business practices, relating to issues such as counterfeit car stamps and service books and the imposition of admin fees when purchasers seek refunds.

Cenred Elworthy said: “Purchasers of low value cars are, in many cases particularly vulnerable, as the vehicle is often purchased in cash after a previous vehicle has become unusable.   “Furthermore, as consumers have become aware of their rights to reject unsatisfactory vehicles there has been a noted increase in cars being sold with significant “admin fees”, up to £500, being included in the price.   “This results in any refund being provided minus a fee and the possibility of the same unsatisfactory car being sold and refunded repeatedly to “milk” fees.”   Consumers in need of a vehicle or immediate refund may not feel in a position to hold out against these excessive fees.

Consumer protection journalist, Matt Allwright, who reflected on the work of London Trading Standards said: “We’ve never needed our Trading Standards officers more. For a lot of Londoners, money is tight, and it’s not the time to be losing out to devious scams and dodgy schemes.

“London Trading Standards week is all about making sure the good people in and around our capital are equipped to get a straight deal and keep an eye out for each other, and I’m really looking forward to keeping up to date with the world of Trading Standards.”

Alongside Operation Regal, LTS is raising awareness of the new rules coming into effect this month on the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ).

The scheme is expanding to create a a single larger zone up to the North Circular Road (A406) and South Circular Road (A205). Information on how to prepare for the expansion can be found here. (Insert hyperlink) Find out how to prepare for the ULEZ expansion.

The third project that LTS is drawing attention to concerns self-storage. A new Tick Box compliance initiative has been set up to promote best practice in the widely unregulated industry.

A code of practice sets out simple procedures aimed at preventing the storage of counterfeit and other illicit goods and enables facility owners to be sure of who is storing what at their premises. 

More information on the campaign can be found here:

Tick Box | Keep it real, keep it legal. (tick-box.org.uk) 

In another initiative to prevent rogue traders, bogus callers and distraction burglaries, LTS has secured funding to purchase and install camera technology in homes across the capital. 

The individuals supported were identified as being situationally vulnerable, susceptible to this crime type and given Ring video doorbells, GuardCams or video door panels.

Donna Sidwell from National Trading Standards said: “Intervention of this type both deters criminals and increases the confidence of the residents…In summary, while there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer, this simple intervention can reduce crime, increase wellbeing and potentially allow consumers more time to live independently for longer.”

Finally, LTS is highlighting the online consumer crime reporting tool – a confidential, no reply service to raise concerns over inappropriate practices relating to all schemes. Report consumer crime – London Trading Standards

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