Established in 1951, CPIN is an independent consumer organisation supported by BSI and the government.
It includes more than 50 trained consumer advocates - all volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds - who participate in the development of standards to make sure the consumer voice is heard.
Standards are created through collaboration between many different stakeholders, including manufacturers, retailers, trade associations, regulators and consumer stakeholders. CPIN’s Consumer Representatives are a key part of this process.
We work towards a safer, fairer, better world where standards help organisations improve outcomes for consumers and minimise the risk of harm.
Becoming a CPIN Representative.What do Consumer Representatives do?
CPIN Representatives stand up for consumers in standards committees.
You might attend meetings to highlight consumer harms others might not have considered, work in a small group to address specific issues or review and comment on the draft text of a standard,
Some of this work is virtual, while at other times the work is done in person.
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.
Meet a Rep: Michelle McKenna, Glasgow
"I’ve been a CPIN Representative for the last three years. As a parent of two, I want every child to grow up safe and happy, so when the opportunity came along to work on a standard to improve the safety of button batteries - that can kill a child if swallowed - I jumped at the chance.
Before I started, I worried that creating the standard would involve a tussle between the companies who make the batteries and the safety and health experts, but it wasn’t like that at all. Everyone saw it as an opportunity to do their very best to come up with safer products that would save lives. My suggestions were heard, and I felt like I had a meaningful impact on the final outcome.
Representing consumers' interests in the creation of new standards is a great way to volunteer your time and put it to good use. I’ve found the training useful in my career, met lots of new people and professional contacts and the annual Christmas social in London is really fun.”
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.
What will you get out of becoming a CPIN Representative?
CPIN Representatives play a key role in the creation of standards. As part of this, you’ll get:
To work alongside BSI’s strong network of experts and other stakeholders, helping create new standards and update existing ones.
To enhance your CV through practical, impactful work.
Full training and support (no prior experience of using or creating standards is necessary).
Travel to the annual CPIN AGM and social in London, as well as occasional travel to standards meetings in the UK and abroad.
BSI covers all agreed expenses relevant to your volunteering.
What do you need to be a CPIN Representative?
The most important thing is to have passion and empathy for representing the lives and experiences of consumers.
Beyond that, you’ll also need:
A willingness to speak up for consumers of all ages, abilities, genders, cultures and incomes, while always looking for common ground.
A desire to learn new things and consider other perspectives, often in real detail.
Some flexibility. Because of the wide range of stakeholders involved in creating standards, meetings often take place during normal working hours.
Some time. Most Reps spend around a day a month volunteering, though some spend longer. Given this, becoming a CPIN Representative is ideal for people on a career break, working part-time, returning to work, studying or who have a flexible employer keen to invest in their professional development.
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.
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.
CPIN 70th Anniversary
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:
Contact us to set up an informal chat about becoming a Consumer Representative. We’ll be very happy to answer your questions about the role and help you decide if it’s the right opportunity for you.
If you decide to volunteer, we provide full training in the standards making process and how you, as a Consumer Representative, can influence it. From there, and throughout your volunteering, you’ll be supported by the BSI Consumer Team, CPIN Coordinators and your fellow Representatives.
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 best practices 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 provide 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.”