Which? response to the Working Group’s report into Product Safety

Responding to the publication of the Working Group’s report into Product Safety Peter Vicary-Smith, Chief Executive of Which?, said:

“These recommendations are not the fundamental reform needed to fix the UK’s broken product safety system, which currently poses grave risks to consumers.

“Which? is calling on the Government to take urgent action to put consumers first and to create a new national body to lead on product safety, as well as a genuine ‘one-stop-shop’ to provide authoritative information and advice when dangerous products are identified or recalls are required.”


Which?’s view on the Working Group report:

Which? is calling for a well-resourced independent national body, which would be a centre of expertise on consumer product safety, required to put consumers first, operate transparently and with a duty to directly communicate with consumers, identifying dangerous goods and making sure they are removed from people’s homes. The Working Group report does not go far enough. It suggests a central resource that will be available to support local authorities. Although this would provide some additional assistance to local authorities, putting a few more officials in place is nowhere near the scale of response that is needed.

We have called for a single, reliable and authoritative website that will be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for information and advice when dangerous products are identified or recalls are required. This report says that consideration should be given to the development a single portal for consumer information on product corrective actions and recalls. We think that the Government should do this as a matter of urgency. It has set up a new website, but this only co-ordinates links to a range of relevant sites. This is not a true ‘one-stop-shop’ where consumers can quickly and easily see which products are affected.

This report heavily promotes primary authority partnerships as a part of the solution. We have concerns about the use of primary authority partnerships between businesses and local authorities – which failed consumers in the case of Whirlpool. We are concerned that primary authority partnerships can lead to a potential conflict between local authorities acting in their advisory capacity and their ability to step in and enforce when needed.

We have called for a review of the regulatory framework as we leave the EU, including the balance between industry led-compliance and independent oversight. This report has not proposed such a review, other than developing a code of practice on recall and emphasising the role of voluntary standards. This would mean a continued over reliance on businesses to ‘do the right thing’ across a range of products.

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