Oxford. A city of spires, universities … and an apparent guarantee that if you’re busted by county’s trading standards, they’ll do their best to keep you out of the paper.
Really? According to the Oxford Mail, that certainly appears to be the case.
The Mail’s Oliver Evans used FOI to ask Oxford County Council for details of all the shops which had been caught selling age-restricted goods to young people as part of regular stings.
The county council responded, saying that 27 out of 85 stores checked were caught selling things like cigarettes, fireworks and even knives to youngsters.
Rightly (in my opinion), the Mail also reports on the fact the county council refused to name the stores involved.
Oxfordshire County Council refused to release the premises’ names as this might “harm the commercial interests of another person” and in case there were court cases if they break the law again.
The authority also argued that “a failed test might not be an “accurate reflection” of whether the premises is currently selling to underage youngsters and shops could have changed ownership.”
If that last point really is true, then it surely begs the question why carry out the inspections in the first place. Could the police apply the same principle to drink drivers, arguing that one failed breath test may not be an accurate reflection of whether people did drink and drive?
There could – in theory – be a good reason for not releasing some of the details if legal action is still pending.
But surely a trading standards department is only effective when the people who pay for it, have faith in it?