Richard is a trading standards officer with North Lincolnshire Council. He graduated from the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (now Cardiff Metropolitan University) in June 2004 and qualified as a trading standards officer the following year.
When deciding on what to study at university, I was keen to go into something that involved law enforcement. I was considering the police force, when a family friend suggested I look into trading standards. I did some research into what the job of a TSO involved and the qualification routes available and decided it was the role for me.
I chose to attend UWIC - University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. At that time there were only four universities that ran Trading Standards Institute (TSI) accredited courses, which were all very similar. The Cardiff course stood apart from the others as it offered a 'sandwich' year, which really appealed to me.
For my sandwich year, I wrote to all of my surrounding councils' trading standards departments asking if they could offer me a placement. North Lincolnshire responded and offered me a 12-month placement, which I accepted. Following my placement, I returned for my final year at university before being offered a trainee post back at North Lincolnshire Council. I finally qualified and was offered a full-time job.
Now that I’m in the role, the best aspect of it is feeling that I help consumers get a fair deal. For example, an elderly woman in my area had been cold-called and pressured into having her driveway cleaned at a cost of £1,800. I intervened and consequently she did not have to pay for the work. Perhaps the worst thing about the job is when I’m unable to help because of lack of evidence. In many cases the evidence is essentially one person's version of events against another's. In such cases, I may suspect that a customer has been misled, but it can’t be proved.
My degree has provided me with a good understanding of both the relevant legislation and the professional practice of trading standards, which has allowed me to sit the required further professional exams to qualify as a trading standards officer. Part of my degree also involved management training, putting me in a good position to progress to a more senior level. I’ve also taken further management qualifications whilst in employment, and with more experience I’d like to progress towards becoming head of service in a few years' time. From there, who knows, maybe even chief executive!
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