At present, most product safety is managed by local authorities and businesses self-regulating. Unlike many other countries, no single body provides cohesive oversight, and Trading Standards is overstretched by its range of responsibilities.
The government has taken a range of actions to enhance consumer safety, but it needs to radically overhaul the system, rather than make iterative improvements. Fundamental reform is required, so important information about faulty products is spread promptly and consumers are confident in their safety.
Brexit offers perils and opportunity when it comes to product safety. It will allow the UK to be more flexible and creative in its approach to product safety, but also it will reduce access to EU agencies and expertise. Trade deals must not come at the cost of accepting dangerous products from countries with less rigorous product safety regimes.
Finally, there must be an improved appeals process to hold local authorities to account, and the government must remind local authorities of their responsibilities under the General Product Safety Regulations.
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