Opinion: Enforcement remains key in the battle against touts

Opinion: Enforcement remains key in the battle against touts

Largely overlooked amid the government's much-trumpeted bots ban announcement on Saturday was an even greater concession for the anti-touting brigade – ministers’ blanket acceptance of the Waterson Review.

It had been a long time coming: Professor Michael Waterson’s exhaustive 226-page report on the resale market was published on May 26, 2016 - almost 10 months ago.

With the fallout from Brexit, a cabinet reshuffle and the small matter of a new Prime Minister (understandably) taking precedence, the government had kept its own counsel on the subject prior to the weekend. And as the days and weeks passed with no official response, suspicions grew that the matter was - as Waterson had feared - being “pushed into the long grass”, meaning Saturday's announcement came as something of a surprise.

Nonetheless, despite welcoming the newsthose who have led the fight against ticket abuse have learnt to temper their expectations. After all, it was way back in 2015 that the House of Commons green lit an amendment to the Consumer Rights Act to regulate re-sellers more closely. Two years on, little, if anything, has changed – to the exent that, rather than recommend further legislation, the Waterson report merely called for existing measures to be enforced.

The government has vowed to support National Trading Standards in its work alongside the Competition And Markets Authority on an enforcement investigation into suspected breaches of consumer protection law in the secondary ticketing market, although the level of its financial investment is unclear.

What is clear is that without enforcement, both the bots ban and Waterson’s recommendations will be rendered meaningless, while tough talk of unlimited fines for those who flout the law will remain just that - talk. Campaigners can only hope that this time, the action speaks as loudly as the words. 

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