CPIN is an independent organization, that exists to empower and protect consumers through effective consumer representation in British Standards. Established in 1951, CPIN operates with financial support from BSI and government.
CPIN is made up of 60+ trained volunteers, who are experts in consumer issues and participate in the development of standards to:
highlight key consumer issues
make sure that real problems are addressed
minimize the risk of consumer harm
make a positive difference to consumers’ lives
We believe that all consumers have a right to safe and accessible goods and services, clear information, fair treatment, effective systems of redress and a healthy environment. CPIN representatives use the principles described in the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP) as the foundation of their work.
CPIN Mission To empower and protect consumers through effective consumer representation in British Standards.
CPIN Vision A safer, fairer and better world where standards help organizations to improve outcomes for consumers and minimize the risk of harm.
BSI publishes around 2,500 standards each year and it would be impossible for CPIN to get involved in every single one. So, resources are focused in areas where CPIN can have the greatest positive impact for consumers, based on the following priorities:
Consumer safety – protect consumers’ health and safety when using goods and services, by helping organizations to minimize risks. Find out more in CPIN’s ‘Consumer Safety’ leaflet
Consumer vulnerability – goods and services are fair and inclusive, and that organizations provide the right support for those in vulnerable situations. Find out more in CPIN’s ‘Consumer Vulnerability’ leaflet
Digital – organizations’ keep personal data safe and secure and consumers are able to make informed choices about digital products and services. Find out more in CPIN’s ‘Digital’ leaflet
Services – consumers can access safe, fair, quality services both online and offline. Find out more in CPIN’s ‘Services’ leaflet
Sustainability – organizations follow sustainable business practice and help consumers to make green choices. Find out more in CPIN’s ‘Sustainability’ leaflet.
CPIN is chaired by Julie Hunter, an independent consumer consultant, who leads the CPIN Steering Group to ensure strategic oversight of CPIN’s work.
Julie has been a member of CPIN since 2009 and has represented consumers on a wide range of standards, including consumer vulnerability and online reviews. She is co-convenor of the ISO COPOLCO Services Working Group and chaired ANEC’s Services Working Group from 2012-2018.
Delivering fair, flexible and inclusive services for all.
Find out how BS ISO 22458: Consumer Vulnerability can help service providers to understand, identify and support consumers in vulnerable situations.
CPIN representatives sit on hundreds of standards development committees to speak up for consumers. As consumer experts they are trained to identify consumer issues in any product or service, prompting standards-makers to think about:
All consumers - the different needs, experiences and abilities of people of all ages, genders and ethnicities, including those in vulnerable situations.
Real-life use - how goods and services might be used, or impact consumers, in real life. For example:
Malicious use - a stranger hacking into a child’s internet-connected toy
Unintended use – young children playing with a tumble dryer intended for adult users
Passive use - pedestrians breathing in noxious fumes from vehicle exhausts
Potential harm – the risks to consumers if things go wrong and the scale of harm. How many people might be affected, for example, individuals, specific groups, local, national or global populations.
The big picture – relevant consumer issues at all stages of a product lifecycle or service journey. For example, from design and manufacture; to sale, purchase and consumption; to complaints and redress; recycling and disposal.
In standards, a consumer can be anyone who buys, uses, or may be impacted by, organizational behaviour, products and services. Customers, patients, residents, passengers and pupils are all consumers.
UK consumer engagement
CPIN engages with other UK consumer organizations to inform the work of its representatives and strengthen the consumer position in standards.
It does this by:
Holding ad-hoc meetings for consumer experts on certain topics to seek input for specific standards work.
Being a core member of the BSI Consumer Forum and working closely with member organizations.
The Consumer and Public Interest Network provides the independent voice of the UK consumer in the development of British Standards, which play such a vital role delivering consumer protection to consumers both here, and around the world. Consumers are an essential part of BSI’s standards community. Discover the journey of consumers in standards here:
International cooperation is also important. 95% of standards published by BSI each year are European or international in scope, reflecting the global nature of consumer markets and supply chains.
International standards help to tackle cross-border issues and deliver consistent consumer protection. CPIN representatives actively participate in their development to ensure that they meet the needs of, and provide benefits for, UK consumers.
CPIN collaborates with ANEC, Consumers International, and COPOLCO to share insight, develop policy and identify common goals.
ANEC is the European consumer voice in standards. Members of CPIN participate in ANEC’s General Assembly and are active in ANEC working groups. CPIN experts may also represent ANEC directly into European standards developed by CEN/CENELEC, the European standards bodies.
Consumers International (CI) is the membership organization for consumer groups around the world. CI represents the consumer voice directly into international standards developed by ISO and IEC. CPIN is a supporter member of CI.
COPOLCO is ISO’s committee on consumer policy. Its members are the National Standards bodies, such as BSI, which plays an active role in COPOLCO. CPIN works closely with BSI’s Consumer Team to collaborate with other NSBs on international consumer issues.
CPIN works closely with BSI’s Consumer Team to collaborate with other NSBs on international consumer issues.
How to get involved
Become a CPIN rep
If you would like to make a positive difference to consumers through standards, apply to become a CPIN representative. We welcome consumer champions with a wide range of knowledge, skills and experience. Full training and support will be given.
CPIN and the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) at BEIS collaborated to improve the product recall system for consumers. An OPSS spokesperson says: “Standards are part of the toolkit for tackling consumer problems, working alongside education and legislation. We had evidence that the product recall system was not well understood and therefore was not protecting consumers from unsafe products. We worked with BSI, through the Consumer Forum Council, to develop a PAS on Product Recalls to outline good practice for businesses and regulators. This proved to be a quick and effective way to raise awareness and improve processes.”
Domestic appliance fires
Which? research and data provides valuable evidence to support CPIN representatives in their work. In 2018 CPIN collaborated with Which?, Electrical Safety First and the London Fire Brigade to improve safety standards for domestic appliances to reduce the risk of fire. A spokesperson from Which? says: “Standards play an important role in consumer protection by providing a framework that helps businesses comply with legislation. British standards are also used in a lot of the comparative product testing that Which? undertakes.”
Button battery safety: New British Standard sets out safety requirements
The newly published PAS 7055:2021 specifies the safety requirements for button and coin batteries. CPIN Rep Michelle McKenna, who advocated for consumers on this standard, explains why the PAS is so important for consumer safety, and why CPIN involvement was crucial.
"Consumers expect that if a product is dangerous, there will be a warning attached. In practice, many button batteries, or products that contain them, have come with inadequate or non-existent safety warnings." Michelle McKenna
Katrina Phillips, Chief Executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, said: “We have been collaborating with CPIN to contribute to a new standard for button batteries to make it harder for children to access potentially lethal batteries in everyday household products such as remote controls, gaming headsets and tea lights. Standards are vital in helping to protect children and reassuring parents that what they’re buying is safe. The organisations have all worked hard together with other stakeholders to produce a standard for button batteries.’’
Ashley Martin from RoSPA said: ‘This is an important step in protecting consumers and helping businesses adopt a consistent approach to product design with button batteries.
-We are proud to be one of the consumer forum members who collaborated in the steering group to advise on the new PAS 7055 safety standard for button batteries ‘
Electrical Safety First:
‘’In recent years, a number of children have suffered appalling injuries from ingesting coin or button batteries, which are of a similar size and shape to some sweets. As the recognised expert in home electrical safety, Electrical Safety First was delighted to work together in collaboration with other members of the Consumer Forum to develop the new PAS 7055 for these batteries. We believe this new standard will do much to help reduce the likelihood of further tragic accidents. And, as a free download from the BSI website, it can be widely distributed and easily accessible – particularly for small and medium sized businesses.’’