TIME-CONSUMING trading standards investigations and a focus on prosecutions will be replaced by acting on tip-offs.

Blackburn with Darwen Council is adopting a national model of trading standards enforcement.

Bosses say the adoption of National Trading Standards’ intelligence operating models encourages the use of problem-oriented policing techniques, and offers several advantages over the current policy in use with Blackburn with Darwen.

To control demand on the service, to ensure that work was prioritised in a fair and transparent way, and to protect the council from adverse comment by the Local Government Ombudsman in the event that an individual complainant took offence to the fact that we were unable to investigate an individual offence, in 2011 the team adopted the Trading Standards Enforcement Policy, which set out a scoring mechanism for investigations, and other provisions around prioritisation of officer time.

But in recent years National Trading Standards has issued the Intelligence Operating Model (IOM), which is effectively an up-to date and national version of the council's local policy.

National Trading Standards have developed this model as most trading standards services find themselves similarly under-resourced.

In adopting the new model, bosses say there will be less risk of challenge from the Local Government Ombudsman.

The new system will be less bureaucratic and have less focus on prosecutions, and will be more effective in terms of using limited resources compared with time consuming investigative work, environment boss Cllr Jim Smith said in a report.

He added: "The focus on intelligence-led processes aligns with the National Trading Standards approach to allocation of funds; for example, significant numbers of entries on the NTS intelligence database have resulted in NTS allocating funding to Blackburn with Darwen for tobacco operations.

"Local processes will be very similar to regional tasking processes, making it easier to request support from the regional enforcement team."

Gary Johnston, service lead for public protection and environmental health, said: "In common with most areas, Trading Standards resources in Blackburn with Darwen are insufficient to enforce the full range of trading standards legislation allotted to them.

"For this reason, a transparent and effective prioritisation mechanism is required.

"To date a local policy has been used, but now a nationally recognised mechanism is available – called the Intelligence Operating Model.

"To replace the current mechanism which ensures that that considered and transparent decisions are made in relation to designating priorities for trading standards enforcement in BwD, and that workload throughout the year is prioritised and

reviewed in line with these priorities, while ensuring a degree of flexibility to address urgent matters.

"The aim is to ensure that prioritisation and workload allocation is undertaken in a way which represents current best practice. Prioritisation of workload is done via scoring matrix which includes assessment relating to vulnerability of victims."