Dangerous toys, cars and household goods could flood into the UK after Brexit , a consumer group warns.
Crucial delays to rooting out unsafe products could be triggered unless ongoing access to the European Safety Gate rapid warning system is thrashed out, according to Which?
The campaign organisation also wants major reforms to the product safety system to protect consumers.
The regime is under strain because it is “far too reliant” on “increasingly overstretched” trading standards officials, Which? claims.
Advocacy director Caroline Normand said: “With more products than ever before being declared unsafe, it’s clear that an already failing consumer enforcement system needs a major shake up to ensure that people aren’t left at risk from dangerous products in their homes.
“If it is to make people’s 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.”
Analysis shows the Safety Gate rapid warning system, through which 31 European countries warn each other of products with serious safety problems, issued 34% more alerts in 2018 than a decade ago.
The system flagged issues with 2,064 dangerous, non-food products last year – a rise of more than 500 since 2008, when the figure stood at 1,542.
Data show that in 2018 toys and vehicles were the product categories with the highest number of safety notices, at 655 and 419 respectively.
The number of notices for vehicles has more than doubled in the last 10 years, when it stood at 167, while alerts for toys have surged by more than 150.
More than 200 items of “clothing, textiles and fashion” were flagged as unsafe.
And the alarm was raised for 176 electrical appliances category and 121 cosmetics products.
Some 180 products on the alert system were deemed a fire risk, 248 an electric-shock threat and 397 a choke hazard last year.
Labour MP Rachel Reeves, who chairs the Commons Business Committee, said: “Our committee has highlighted how the UK’s product safety regime is fragmented and poorly resourced.
“At a local level, trading standards are the first line of defence against faulty and dangerous goods, but a lack of resources is hindering their ability to properly investigate faults, maintain standards and fight the corner of consumers when dealing with global manufacturers.”
The Local Government Association said: “With the number of trading standards officers having more than halved since 2009 and budgets to this service having almost halved since 2011, the Government needs to use the forthcoming spending review to address the funding shortfall that councils face.”