Four linked warrants served at addresses in East Lancashire, Hapton and Manchester last Thursday (5 November) resulted in the seizure of over a million pounds worth of counterfeit clothing and shoes.
Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards team and the police swooped on four unnamed premises to uncover around four lorry loads of illicit goods.
The operation followed the receipt of intelligence packages relating to border seizures, together with considerable support from the Anti Counterfeiting Group and brand representatives who helped develop the investigation and attended on the day.
A number of eBay test purchases of items by Lancashire Trading Standards were later confirmed as counterfeit, and warrants were then granted by the courts. Copies of numerous brands were seized, including Nike, Converse, Adidas, North Face and Superdry.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said: “The volume of illegal goods found by our officers in just one day demonstrates the value of the counterfeit clothing trade.
“Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime – the lack of control over working conditions places ‘invisible’ workers who produce counterfeit goods, many of them children, in very vulnerable positions.
“Counterfeiting costs our economy £9 billion a year and is behind over 80,000 UK job losses annually, so it’s something we need to investigate.
“We are very grateful to Manchester Trading Standards, to Lancashire Constabulary and Greater Manchester Police, to the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and to the Anti-Counterfeiting Group for their invaluable assistance on these jobs.”
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods for Manchester City Council, said: “Partnership working is the bedrock of the work that we do in Manchester.
“We benefit greatly from collaboration, be that with our colleagues at Lancashire County Council, Greater Manchester Police or the Home Office.
“When a haul of illegal good of this scale is seized it is vindication of our belief that we are on the right track to stamp out this sort of crime in our communities.”
Anyone with information about counterfeit sales can help by reporting it to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline: 0808 223 1133.