For almost every law, regulation and item of best practice that a retailer follows, there is the potential for an enforcement officer to have a differing opinion.
For example, many retailers follow Challenge 25 when dealing with underage sales. If you get a visit from an enforcement officer and they want you to change that to challenge everyone, or those under 30, you may be forced to do so unless you’re covered under something called a Primary Authority partnership.
These partnerships are set up between either businesses or trade associations and local councils to provide one set of rules that all stores (or members of an association) can follow, regardless of where they are in England and Wales. This ‘Assured Advice’, if followed, means that all enforcement officers cannot force you to change procedures.
One of the major benefits is that you can get clarification on what’s acceptable quickly, especially when regulations are new and untested. For example, when the tobacco display ban came into force, government guidance stated that all price lists and labels had to be in Helvetica font, which is something that most computers don’t come pre-loaded with. However, through Assured Advice, we confirmed with Government that the Arial font was also acceptable.
At the start of October, there are big changes coming into force around Assured Advice, and from October the laborious form-filling process to sign up to a scheme will also be gone. We’re signing up thousands of retailers to Assured Advice in advance, and you can find out more at www.acs.org.uk/advice.