Dangerous products could swamp UK after Brexit, warns Which?

Public at risk from delays in identifying unsafe goods if UK leaves European safety system

Dangerous cars, electrical goods and toys could flood into the UK after Brexit unless the government urgently reforms the current failing safety enforcement system, a consumer group warned on Monday.

Which? says the public will be vulnerable to delays in spotting and dealing with unsafe products unless continued access to the European Safety Gate system is negotiated.

Its new analysis shows the scheme, under which 31 European countries alert each other to products with serious safety problems, issued 34% more notifications in 2018 than a decade ago.

In recent months, alerts have included a toxic childrens putty that could damage youngsters reproductive systems, and clothing which posed a strangulation risk.

Recall notices have also appeared for fire-risk HP laptop batteries, explosive Honda airbags and a flammable childrens Star Wars Stormtrooper outfit.

Last year the system flagged 2,064 dangerous non-food products 500 more than in 2008, when the figure stood at 1,542. While part of the increase may be attributed to better reporting by authorities, the increase highlights the scale of unsafe products that must be tackled, Which? said.

Action can include recalls, warnings or seizing products at the border all reliant on increasingly cash-strapped trading standards run by local councils.

With more products than ever before being declared unsafe, its clear that an already failing consumer enforcement system needs a major shake-up to ensure that people arent left at risk from dangerous products in their homes said Caroline Normand, the Which? director of advocacy.

If it is to make peoples safety the number one priority, the government must secure access to the European alert and information sharing systems after Brexit, as well as introduce major domestic reforms to ensure consumers are properly protected from unsafe products.

In 2018 toys and vehicles were the product categories with the highest number of safety notices, 655 and 419 respectively, and both with significant increases over 10 years.

Martyn Allen, the technical director at Electrical Safety First, said that after Brexit: If no agreement between all contributing member states is found, the UK may be disconnected from Safety Gate.

For consumers, the best way to keep yourself protected from faulty products is to make sure you register any electrical goods you purchase with the manufacturer.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/15/dangerous-products-could-swamp-uk-after-brexit-warns-which

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