Examination of Witnesses

London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:54 am on 17 May 2011.

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Bill Bilon, Mike Baker, Bill Wilson and Guy Pratt gave evidence.

Q 41

Photo of Katy Clark Katy Clark Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran

The new panel has arrived, so we shall commence with their evidence. We are to hear evidence from the London Trading Standards Association,  the Outdoor Media Centre and the Trading Standards Institute. I welcome all four witnesses to the sitting and, once they have had the opportunity to make themselves comfortable, I should be grateful if they would introduce themselves to the Committee, beginning with Guy Pratt.

Guy Pratt: Thank you, Chair. I am Guy Pratt. I represent the Trading Standards Institute. I also represent the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers, which is part of the Trading Standards Institute. In my current day job, I am assistant director of community protection for Hertfordshire county council, which involves being head of trading standards and a number of community safety issues in Hertfordshire. We have one of the Olympic venues in Hertfordshire, so I have knowledge of that although I represent the Trading Standards Institute and the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers today.

Bill Bilon: I am Bill Bilon. I am head of trading standards for the London boroughs of Brent and Harrow. I am also the chair of the London Trading Standards Association. In my role as chair of LOTSA, I have been involved in discussions with both the ODA and LOCOG’s independent trading standards response to what might be required of us during the Olympic games.

Mike Baker: I am Mike Baker from the Outdoor Media Centre, the chief executive body that used to be called the Outdoor Advertising Association. It is the trade body for media owners, basically the companies that sell outdoor advertising space. We have been in touch with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games for a very long time, even before the bids for the games went in, in terms of making available all of the stock and media assets to sponsors and LOCOG. We have been involved most recently in the auction to which sponsors have had privileged access in outdoor media space.

Bill Wilson: I am Bill Wilson, the operations director of the Outdoor Media Centre. Mike has underlined our role and how we have been involved with the Olympics thus far.

Photo of Katy Clark Katy Clark Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran

Thank you. Welcome to all four of you. Hon. Members will have a range of questions to ask you. Who would like to lead?

Q 42

Photo of Mary Macleod Mary Macleod Conservative, Brentford and Isleworth

Thank you gentlemen for coming in today. Perhaps you can each begin by giving us your view of the things in the Bill, the impact of the Bill and any challenges that it might give you.

Bill Wilson: Someone has to start. As far as we are concerned—Mike will concur—we have read it all, and I do not see that we will have any issues with it whatever. I can imagine your concern about the element for accessibility of potentially ambush marketing, but from everything we have seen and the control that has been asked of, and signed up to, by our members, we do not foresee any issues with that.

Mike Baker: I have to say just what Bill said. We represent something like 95% of outdoor advertising revenues; the other 5% sit outside our remit, so we are not in a position to regulate them, but we have spoken extensively to LOCOG and we know, in terms of the regulations, what is permitted and what is not permitted. We have a further session on 16 June at which London 2012 will again set out what is permitted and what is not  permitted to our members. We are very well informed. We are also very responsible in terms of wanting to fit in with exactly how LOCOG and the ODA want to run it.

Bill Bilon: In respect of trading standards, our main concern is marketing and advertising. We support all the recommendations, and trading standards are well-equipped to deal with those powers and the provisions under the regulations. We have been in consultation with the ODA and discussed what would be required of our profession during the Olympics, and we feel that we can provide and carry out those particular functions. With respect to the suggested changes regarding the delivery of seized goods to the police, we are fully supportive of that recommendation as well.

Guy Pratt: In terms of the key amendments put forward by the ODA, we are very supportive of that. It makes sense that the seizure and storage is under the control of the enforcing authority within a venue. If it turns out to be the trading standards officers who are the enforcement agents of the ODA, again that makes more sense, so we are very supportive of that.

In terms of the wider issues and of some of the questions posed earlier, there are a number of issues and concerns from trading standards about more general enforcement outside the 200-metre zone. I have got a slight, technical point about the procedures for retention within the zone. The requirements of the Bill are for seized articles to be returned under various circumstances. It is unclear, if the articles seized in the area are counterfeit, whether they can be returned to the people they are seized from—they would be illegal articles but potentially seized under another thing.

To cover that, it would make sense if trading standards officers were the enforcement authority, because they would carry dual enforcement roles with them in the zone—the zone would be within their powers anyway, if that is clear. Rather than just having the powers under this bit of legislation, trading standards officers would carry powers under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, so they could seize goods under other legislation, as well as the new trading regulations.

Q 43

Photo of Mary Macleod Mary Macleod Conservative, Brentford and Isleworth

Clause 1 talks a lot about “infringing articles”. We asked the previous panel whether they were all comfortable with the definition, or lack of definition, of such articles. Do you think the term is self-explanatory, and that the Bill can easily implement it?

Guy Pratt: In relation to the Bill and the 2006 Act, which are purely talking about the zones within which the Olympic events are taking place, that makes sense. “Infringing articles” is wide but it protects the sponsors of the games and protects against ambush advertising. The point I am making is that you can get ambush advertising by using counterfeit goods, just as you could with genuine goods, so there are two things.

Outside the zone, the definition of “infringing articles” does not apply. However, there will be all sorts of infringing articles outside the zone, but it is the local authority’s responsibility to ensure a safe trading environment for the games and for local businesses to be able to profit from the games and to trade fairly around them. Part of that responsibility is to prevent illegal trading—a key concern for local authorities—and the funding is a key concern that is not covered at all by this legislation before you.

Bill Bilon: I agree with what my colleague has just said. In so far as the definition of “infringing articles” is concerned in the event zone itself, I think that covers it. People envisaged all the situations that could possibly arise, and therefore the definition is sufficient for us, if we were given the powers and asked to enforce the legislation, to seize and detain quite a few of the offending articles.

Q 44

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Shadow Minister (Olympics and London), Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

The intellectual property of the Olympics is subject to tight protection because it is so valuable. In making the argument for the games, the protection of intellectual property and the ORN are both points where the insistence and the obligation that come with hosting the games may rub up against public support. We have been, on a cross-party basis, tough in saying, “You want to host an Olympics? This is what you have to do.” That said, we are all concerned to ensure that, where these breaches of the Olympic marque occur and require you or your officers to move in and seize goods, that is done in a fair and proportionate way. That is similar to the discussion that we were having earlier about the application of the ORN. We, as I am sure you do, have a clear idea of where the good will towards the Olympics erupts into a bit of negative public feeling.

Can you take us through a couple of scenarios where you would apply these powers? What, for you, would be the gold standard of good practice to achieve the objective of protecting the Olympic marque or Olympic sponsors while, at the same time, not treating the vast majority who were responsible for that kind of breach as if they were carbon-copy fraudsters, because the majority of them will not be.

Bill Bilon: Many in our profession hope to take a light-touch approach to enforcement. We do not want to be seen as being heavy-handed in the approach that we take, because that could lead to bad publicity and the public would be against that type of enforcement. We are well versed in taking a light-touch approach to all sorts of different things in our day-to-day job. Where a heavy-handed approach, if that is the right terminology, may be taken is where somebody has deliberately set out in an organised manner to breach the provisions of these regulations. In that case, it falls on us as designated officers to take whatever appropriate action is necessary. That is the approach that a trading standards professional has always taken and will continue to take in whatever regulations we enforce.

Guy Pratt: I would add that the approach is always based on informational intelligence. Before you can take any action, you have to get some intelligence around it. That would be on-the-day intelligence, when the officers are operating at the venue. That intelligence will vary, whether within the zone or without the zone. I will speak about that in a minute.

Once you have that intelligence, you decide what the appropriate tactical approach is to deal with the issue. That should result in proportionate enforcement. Trading standards are well versed in dealing with large events, be they football matches at Wembley or, as in Hertfordshire, big pop festival events at Knebworth house, which we deal with. It is an intelligence approach, where you tactically decide how you will deal with that intelligence, with least disruption to the public and maximum fairness to the traders. There are different approaches within  and without the zone. Within the zone, we are not specifically talking about the Olympic marque and the Olympic brand; it is more about the ambush advertising. That would more involve covert officers within the venue. We do not know how many officers are needed or how many there will be, or what the moneys will be. We have not yet had those detailed discussions with the ODA, but more covert officers will be looking for issues that are about to occur or people acting suspiciously, and then working out how to best deal with them. That will be dealt with at the time by the use of security officials or police within the venue and just a quiet chat gently saying, “This isn’t going to happen. The best thing is for it not to happen. Keep that in your bag or we will take it out. Go and enjoy the games.”

Outside the venue, the Olympic marque itself will come much more into being because it is much more likely that there will be people looking to make profit on the back of it, to the detriment of genuine traders. Hertfordshire is quite a busy shopping area. People will be selling genuine, sponsored Olympic articles and they would want as much protection—and quite rightly they should receive it—from people setting up stalls or just hiding in bushes trying to sell other goods. Again, that is about intelligence. It is about having officers on the ground trying to find out what will be happening and dealing with it in the most appropriate way.

Enforcement will be difficult logistically and numbers are an issue, as is funding. Funding that enforcement within 200 metres of the venues will be the responsibility of the ODA, although we do not know the detail of that yet. Outside of that, no funding outside London is currently made available to local authorities, so if funding were not forthcoming from LOCOG, local authorities will have to decide with the resources that are put to them—which again will be for local politicians to decide—and balance the needs of the traders and the need for a safe and enjoyable event for members of the public, which is what local authorities want, against the cost of resources to do that.

I hope that I have answered the questions. First, it is intelligence on the ground working out the best tactical approach and then the most proportionate actions. I want to give the Committee a prime example of the concerts that take place at Knebworth, where there are probably 200,000 or 300,000 people over a three-day event. A number of teams of officers work throughout the weekend. Most of the seizures take place in, say, pub car parks or cars around the venue out of sight of the crowds. We identify where the issues are; we have appropriate resource, whether police officers or security people, and we then prevent the items from occurring. The last thing we want is confrontation and potential seizures among the public. Generally, trading standards are very well experienced in that and have a very proportionate approach to such issues.

Q 45

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Liberal Democrat, Bath

Can I just follow up on your answer to Tessa Jowell? Outside the Olympic venues, you are quite rightly suggesting that all sorts of people will try to do all sorts of things and trading standards officers all round the country will presumably anticipate that. Have either the association or the institute made an assessment of the likely increase in activity of trading standards officers in each area, and what the cost implication will be? Clearly, you rightly say that there is no money to pay for it and so on.

Can I ask a second question about money? In relation to the handling of seized items, which is covered specifically by the Bill, we know that that will be transferred from the police to the ODA. We also know that it is likely, but not finally agreed, that the ODA will use trading standards officers near the Olympic park and other venues to do the work. We also know that the figure put in the impact assessment as the additional cost to the ODA is £22,000 which, presumably, is likely to be money then handed to trading standards officers for that work. Can you tell us whether you believe that that sum of money is appropriate?

Guy Pratt: As I understand it—and there have been no detailed discussions between the ODA and local authorities—if the Bill is enacted and seizure and storage become the responsibility of the ODA, then if it passes the power on to local authorities, that would be paid for by means of an on-cost on to a standard officer rate. Currently, there have been no detailed discussions, so I cannot comment whether that would be sufficient or whether all of the £22,000 will be transferred. But I do understand what it will not be: for instance, if in Hertfordshire we seized an articulated lorry and had to store that with its goods, we would not charge that back to the ODA. The cost is met by the on-cost of x number of officers for whom we are being paid y amount per hour. We are expected to meet such costs within that amount. In terms of £22,000, it is difficult to say whether that would meet the cost, because it entirely depends on the issues arising at the time.

Q 46

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Liberal Democrat, Bath

Can you help the Committee by telling us how you think that someone has come to this very precise figure of £22,000, if there have been no discussions?

Guy Pratt: I could not comment on that. I am sorry; because I was not involved in those discussions, I cannot help.

Q 47

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Liberal Democrat, Bath

Could Mr Bilon help us?

Bill Bilon: No. In our discussions with the ODA, we have not discussed the financial aspects of the work that trading standards would be doing during the Olympics. Those discussions have yet to take place, so I could not really help the Committee with how the figure has been arrived at. It is something that trading standards has not been involved in. However, it is envisaged that in the very near future, discussions will begin to take place about the funding aspect of trading standards’ involvement with these regulations. In the funding, we would want to include the costs not only of officer time but, definitely, the storage of seized articles and, obviously, any litigation that might take place subsequently—in effect, underwriting the work we would be doing. Coming back to your question about funding, no, those discussions have not taken place, so I cannot explain.

In the first part of your question, you were talking about outside the venues and whether we had done any work to establish what level of activity might take place. In my own area of Brent, where we have Wembley stadium, we always find that whenever the FA cup, the champions league final or whatever takes place, there is a good build-up of activity, with itinerant traders selling all sorts of articles, whether counterfeit or unsafe goods—unsafe products as well—and it requires a lot of resources for trading standards to get involved and to stop such activities from taking place.

As a result, we envisage the same thing will happen with the Olympics. There will be a huge build-up of activity, not necessarily within the venues but, I expect, outside—at railway stations and on the periphery of the venues, where itinerant traders will try to sell their goods and make money. That is where, in the main, trading standards activities will be taking place, although also in the venues and the zone. The lesson that we learned from Manchester—we had extensive discussions with our colleagues there following the Commonwealth games—is that these were the sort of issues that arose. Within the zone or where the events were taking place, there were not too many issues, but outside that were huge problems which they had to resolve.

Q 48

Photo of Mary Macleod Mary Macleod Conservative, Brentford and Isleworth

Do you think there has been enough consultation on the whole issue of advertising linked with the Olympics? For example, there are certainly major restrictions within the Olympic site itself, but will we suddenly see a large amount of outdoor advertising on the routes into London, one of which goes directly through my constituency? Do you have any idea about future growth in advertising in that period?

Mike Baker: I would be surprised if that were the case. It is not impossible, having said that—it does not take very long physically to build a structure. However, under the same contract whereby our members put forward all their advertising assets to the disposal of London 2012 and for selection by sponsors, anything new that gets built in the interim has to go through that same process. It has to be made available to sponsors, which does not entirely answer your question about the sheer volume, but certainly there is control.

There is, if you like, less of an incentive for people to build structures because they would know that they still have to place them at the disposal of sponsors. There is a strict price cap by which the sponsors are protected from price gouging. Prices have to be based on last summer’s rates paid with a certain indexing that is provided by the Advertising Association. So you could not simply build the site and then, because it was a great site, charge £1 million to somebody. It would still have to be the fixed market rates that everybody else would be paying for equivalent sites.

Q 49

Photo of Mary Macleod Mary Macleod Conservative, Brentford and Isleworth

What is the distance that covers? Is it between venues? How far around London does that extend?

Mike Baker: Basically the sites that our members would have at their disposal would be divided into vicinity sites, which are within the immediate surroundings of the venues themselves, and then other sites that are within the London TV area or Greater London, let us say. There is a slight difference in terms of how those can be used because the proximity sites, the vicinity sites, have to be made available to sponsors and if sponsors do not take them, we very much hope that the look and feel messaging from London 2012 will fill any shortfall, because otherwise there is a risk that our members lose money on the process. So in terms of build that would not make a difference.

Bill Wilson: If your concern is whether there would be a proliferation of boards going up, the answer is no, there will not. The boards that are there constitute an adequate supply. There is no point in oversupplying,  quite honestly. Building sites is very heavily regulated by the legislation that is currently in place and it takes time. We are talking about quite a short time span here anyway. So I just do not think that it will be commercially viable.

Mike Baker: To go back to Tessa Jowell’s question, in terms of protection of Olympic marques, rings and mascots, the content of any advertising that is displayed in posters there also has a strict regime of approvals and checking. So the sponsors themselves have to submit their creative work for inspection, but it would also be extremely risky for any non-sponsor to take liberties with those assets because, realistically, by the time they get posted, they can get covered over within a day, so it would be a rather stupid exercise. Our industry is still mostly paper and paste—there is obviously digital signage as well—and it has to go to the printers. So there is ample time to review all the advertising copy, and for the media owners—our members—to look carefully at anything that seems a little bit suspect in terms of the use of those properties.

Q 50

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

We heard earlier that as a result of this Bill the police will not necessarily be attached to enforcement officers. Do you have any concern about not having a police presence when you need to take action?

Bill Bilon: Yes, those concerns exist in our day-to-day role. There are occasions when it gets confrontational with the businesses we deal with—the itinerant traders—and therefore, we require the assistance of the police to avoid a possible breach of the peace. We also conduct some serious investigations when it is necessary for the offenders or suspects to be arrested. I envisage that, during the course of the Olympics, we will require the assistance of the police and we are in discussions with the Metropolitan police about obtaining their assistance with those investigations.

Guy Pratt: On the practicalities of how this will work, if there was likely to be large-scale ambush advertising at any venue against the regulations, the police would invariably be involved. If 100 or so people are about to put on T-shirts, or whatever, there are potential public order issues if an ODA enforcement officer or a trading standards officer tries to prevent this, not in uniform, not in anything else. If the intelligence said that a number of people were going to be doing this, the tactical approach would be to have uniformed police officers and/or security people—I do not know how that is going to work at the venues—and deal with that in one go, calmly and effectively, so that the event can take place. The practicalities are that the police will not deal with the seized items once they have been seized, but at the point of seizure, big ambush advertising practicalities will not alter.

Q 51

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

Moving on to how some of these actions may impact across London, obviously, within the tight arrangements around the venues there will be strict enforcement taking place. One of the points I raised earlier was, what about around tube stations all around London and areas outside the venues? How will you operate, given the Bill, on enforcing the regulations?

Bill Bilon: We know that there will be a proliferation of issues and problems during the Olympics over trading standards matters, protecting consumers from scams  and other activities that will be going on, not just at railway stations; we envisage that there will be problems about promises of hotels near venues and so on which do not materialise. We will be very busy during the Olympics and we have a contingency plan for how activities going on outside the venues will be patrolled by trading standards officers. Officers will be there to enforce our normal powers under the Trade Marks Act 1994, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 or various other consumer protection legislation. That is something we plan to do aside from the Bill. It may cause some problems with resources and that is why my colleague was keen to point out that resources will be an issue. Although there will be funding from the ODA for the ambush marketing and advertising regulations, in general, there has been no additional funding provided as yet for increasing the day-to-day activities of trading standards officers during the games.

Guy Pratt: May I say something on behalf of the Trading Standards Institute and the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers? The Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers are the heads of trading standards who effectively manage the services and resources across the country. One thing these organisations are doing at the moment is trying to co-ordinate intelligence on a strategic level, linking in with police intelligence on a strategic level, because, invariably, the people who will cause issues around venues are known people who would cause the same problems around Wembley or Knebworth. The approach is to work with the police and with intelligence across the country within our networks to identify where the issues are and prevent them at source. That is at the strategic level—work is under way to do that because trading standards works on intelligence at the moment. Tactically, it will be about putting that intelligence into practice. That is where it will come down to individual local authorities to have the resources to do that. Strategically, we hope to be at the place where we can identify potential issues and where they might be. That might be warehouses producing some of the counterfeit goods or goods with fake Olympic marques. It would be down to the tactical response of the local authority in that area to address that. Those resources would be at the whim of the local authority.

Q 52

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

Bill, you will be aware that around Wembley stadium many of the routes into the stadium on foot are in private ownership, as opposed to being a public highway. That enables greater enforcement to take place on those particular areas. Across London, at a lot of the Olympic venues, there are public highways. I understand that there are different restrictions that would apply to the public highway as opposed to private land. Are you content that the proposals in the Bill are sufficient to give you the powers you need to enforce the whole process?

Bill Bilon: As far as the Bill is concerned, I think there are sufficient powers to enforce the ambush marketing and advertising issues that might arise. There are sufficient powers to deal with that, both on public and private land. We work closely with the ODA in each of the local authorities to identify the control zone in the vicinity of the various venues. The ODA has been along to all the local authorities to discuss it. As a result, the zone itself has been agreed. I am quite happy with that.

I would still go back to the issue that you identified and the question you posed. It is not so much what happens within those venues, it is what happens outside. That is why my colleague pointed to a number of cases where trading standards will have a lot on their plate during the course of the Olympics, dealing with ambush marketing and advertising, but in the main dealing with day-to-day issues that arise on a much bigger level. Those are the problems we face: transport hubs and other areas where people congregate.

Q 53

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

Given that is the issue, and that enforcement officers at the Olympic venues are likely to be trading standards officers, will there be a need to bring in trading standards officers from other parts of the country to cover the rest of London, to compensate for the people going to the Olympic venues?

Bill Bilon: There are already discussions taking place. As chair of the London Trading Standards Association, I continue to get contacted by colleagues throughout the country who just want to volunteer for the Olympics to come and work here. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There is a possibility of having volunteers come along within the trading standards profession during the Olympics. There is also the possibility of backfilling. If our officers are doing the work with regard to specific regulations on ambush marketing and advertising under the Bill, we may need to backfill to do our day job. That is where we may have to get contract or agency staff in support of the Olympics and Paralympic games. That will be an issue for us, particularly with the reduction in budgets we have had generally in local government and within our profession. That is a big issue that we need to address between now and the Olympic games.

Q 54

Photo of Duncan Hames Duncan Hames Liberal Democrat, Chippenham

Earlier, we were reassured that ambush marketing is typically conducted knowingly; indeed, people are generally paid to do it. Do you think that, through some innovative marketing technique, members of the public could be unknowingly conscripted as ambush marketeers? Can we be confident that they will be treated sensibly, especially if they are children or teenagers?

Bill Bilon: We always take the approach that the intention of enforcement officers is to get to the heart of the problem and take action against those who organise these things—the controlling minds of the operation—and not those who perhaps fall into the trap. If somebody perpetrates a scheme, and they stand outside the venue and hand out particular T-shirts, which would constitute ambush marketing if a group of people were to wear them, clearly it would be wrong for us to try to prosecute the individuals wearing the T-shirts. The intention would be for enforcement officers to establish who was behind the particular scheme and prosecute those individuals. So yes, I agree that there is a possibility that innocent members of the public could be induced into perpetrating this type of offence or breaching the regulations, but we would not necessarily prosecute those people, no.

Guy Pratt: You have to rely on the professionalism of the people on the day. Yes, if they were young children you would make sure they were dealt with in a certain way. As I understand it, ambush advertising will be effective only if you have, say, 100 people wearing those T-shirts. If that is cured, and there ends up being one or two young children wearing T-shirts who are not noticed  on TV, that might be a different thing. I think that that is for the professionalism of the officers on the day to deal with, but it is not at all about de-clothing anyone at the event.

Q 55

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Labour, Croydon North

Within all that, can you assure us that a citizen is perfectly at liberty to go to the Olympic games wearing a T-shirt or whatever that might advertise a product, without the risk of being harassed? Secondly, from the earlier discussion, I got the impression that the exact nature of the co-operation between you, your officers and the police was not clear. Is there a danger that the police might say that they have enough to worry about without helping trading standards officers? Do you think you need to have these negotiations at a more senior level?

Guy Pratt: On venues, there will be various groups under other legislation, called safety advisory groups, that look at safety around the whole venue. That will take all the issues into account. There are high-level people involved around the specific venues. The approach will be, “We will need police officers to help if these things occur,” and that would be taken into each agency’s response plans for the venue.

Q 56

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Labour, Croydon North

What does that mean? Are you going to get help from police officers or not?

Guy Pratt: Yes, I would expect to, absolutely.

Q 57

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Labour, Croydon North

As prompted by my colleague, Tessa Jowell, if a child turns up wearing a T-shirt advertising a certain type of sporty blend, they’re not going to be—

Guy Pratt: Absolutely not. Ambush advertising is about hundreds of T-shirts, and it’s generally effective by means of TV. That is what we are looking for, or media taking pictures. Individual people turning up wearing T-shirts will not be stopped and searched.

Q 58

Guy Pratt: There needs to be—I don’t know the Government or ODA approach to this—a certain amount of education around ambush advertising. Coming into the previous issue, there probably needs to be some education leading up to the games around ambush advertising, because it’s a phrase that is known to me now, but it was not prior to some of this.

Q 59

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

I went into this in some detail when it came up on Second Reading. A child turning up wearing a T-shirt with an advertising label on it that contravenes the sponsors will not be asked to take it off. Indeed, if any children should turn up wearing football shirts with another advertiser on them, they will not be asked to take them off.

Guy Pratt: Earlier, the ODA discussed the memorandum of understanding. We have not had any details around that, but I would hope that the memorandum of understanding—

Q 60

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Shadow Minister (Olympics and London), Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

Sorry to press this, but what happens if a whole class of children turn up from an east London primary school wearing Nike shirts when Adidas is the sponsor? This is the kind of thing that we want to avoid. Do not feel that you have to give an answer now, but I do not think that any member of the Committee  wants to see a class of 30 children being told that they have to take off their Nike shirts. However, it might be a good idea for schools to be circulated and told that there are certain rules and that, if they get Nike kit for school sports, it would be an idea not to look as if they were making a point.

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

It is perfectly possible that it could happen with Sainsbury’s kit, because it dishes out schools kit.

Guy Pratt: Thought needs to be given to that. Thinking off the top of my head, the ODA might fund 300 plain T-shirts for each venue, so you could just give out a T-shirt.

Q 61

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

I presume that anyone organising ambush advertising would get disparate people to turn up either wearing the clothes or with them secreted about their person, as it were, and to put them on when they got into the stadium to cause an incident in full view of the cameras. What plans do you have to combat that sort of scheme? Other people will, no doubt, be thinking about all sorts of other scams.

Guy Pratt: We have not got into the detail of looking at that as yet. There are a number of things you could do. I imagine that we would want officers working with closed circuit television in the TV room, looking around the crowds for suspicious activity, and officers outside a venue looking for people who appeared not connected but who were making contact. It is all about intelligence and the approach that you take to it. That needs to be worked out.

Bill Bilon: That is exactly what happened in South Africa during the World cup. A group of individuals walked in and then put on T-shirts advertising beer or whatever it was, and that resulted in ambush marketing. The fear is that, if a heavy-handed approach is taken, the public view will be totally against it. It may be that security staff in the stadiums look out for those types of possible offence and deal with them as and when they happen. As my colleague says, we have not got to that level of discussion with the ODA as to what approach we will take should those things materialise.

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

May I cite the fact that we have got to that level of discussion? If that were to happen, they would be removed from the stadium.

Q 62

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Shadow Minister (Olympics and London), Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

I think you will take from this discussion a concern that the Bill’s provisions are one thing, but that everything hinges on their proper application and implementation when necessary. In a way, there is all the difference in the world between 20 young people who come in with the intention of making a demonstration that breaches the rules and a party of school kids who come in from some other part of the country and who are all wearing Puma or Nike shirts or similar. What we want to be confident about is that the training given to volunteers and trading standards officers who will be on the gates, as it were, will be sufficiently sophisticated so that they can draw a distinction between those two things. It is fine to punish people who set out to break  the law. It is quite a different thing to ruin the day for a whole lot of kids, elderly people or people who are quite innocently coming to enjoy their time at the Olympics.

Guy Pratt: I would wholeheartedly agree. I can reassure the Committee, on behalf of the Trading Standards Institute and the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers, that trading standards officials are very well versed in enforcement. They have years of practical experience, and one of the key attributes of trading standards officers is, in some ways, knowing the legislation to ignore. You could probably go into any premises and find breaches of regulations. That does not happen at all. If we look at the prosecutions nationally for trading standards, the people prosecuted are those who are deliberately breaking the law, who often get custodial sentences. The days of prosecuting for small regulatory offences are over, and it is very much about proportional enforcement. I can reassure the Committee on that basis.

Q 63

Photo of John Cryer John Cryer Labour, Leyton and Wanstead

Following on from what Tessa said earlier, I was at a school yesterday morning that is virtually within walking distance of the Olympic site. This particular school has a logo on its tops. Frankly, I do not agree with the idea that 30 of those children might enter the Olympic site and be given plain T-shirts to wear. They should be allowed to enter the Olympic site and the event regardless of what they are wearing.

Guy Pratt: And I am sure that is what would happen. The detail has not been worked up—I would expect the ODA to provide detail around ambush advertising, and that would be about numbers. I do not know if 30 T-shirts, or two, or three, would be broad enough to be ambush advertising. Some of that detail needs to be worked out. I can reassure you that schoolchildren coming into any of the venues are there to watch and enjoy the games, and that is absolutely what they will be doing. Coming back to my colleague, we are looking for perpetrators of deliberate actions designed to undermine the legislation of the country. That is what trading standards officers do on a daily basis. A group of schoolchildren are not perpetrators designed to undermine the will of Parliament and laws of the country. That is the approach that we would take.

Q 64

Photo of Michael McCann Michael McCann Labour, East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

There have been so many brands mentioned already that we might be guilty of ambush advertising. Mr Pratt mentioned the potential to bring in additional staff. I have no concerns about professional trading standards officers, but this event will be vast. I have attended many sports venues in my time, and all you need is one person, whom we would normally describe as a jobsworth, to cause a problem, which can blow into something it was never intended to be. Can you convince and reassure us that if additional staff are brought in, they too will get the appropriate training and be aware of the potential for a flashpoint to be created over something very small?

Guy Pratt: We heard earlier from the ODA that it would look to train staff in that and in the memorandum of understanding. From the point of view of the Trading Standards Institute and the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers, we would look to be involved in that. We would look to employ or move staff who were well versed in dealing with those sorts of situation. In Hertfordshire, in relation to our response to the Knebworth festivals, this year we had no public order offences and very few seizures. We had no seizures in the venue itself; all the seizures were outside. Various authorities—including my own authority and my colleague’s in Brent—have experience of officers working in such environments and providing proportional enforcement. It is not about taking a trading standards officer off the street, who is used to carrying out only inspections of businesses and putting them into a different situation without any training. I can reassure you that that would not be the case.

Photo of Katy Clark Katy Clark Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran

If Members have no further questions for these witnesses, that brings us to the end of our business for this morning. I thank all four witnesses for coming along and giving up their time. That is very much appreciated by the Committee. The Committee will sit again to take further evidence at 4 o’clock this afternoon.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(Angela Watkinson.)

Adjourned till this day at Four o’clock.