Scotland Crimestoppers link-up puts counterfeiters and copyright crooks under the spotlight
Counterfeiters and copyright crooks are being targeted by a new partnership between Crimestoppers and Trading Standards as a national campaign is launched which seeks the Scottish public’s help to tackle the trade in fake goods. [15 November 2010]
The Scotland Crimestoppers campaign, which urges people to call anonymously with information on those who are involved in the production and sale of fake goods, was launched on Monday 15 November alongside the launch of Renfrewshire Council’s “Fake Free Renfrewshire” Strategy.
The month-long campaign by Crimestoppers will see councils across Scotland receiving new intelligence on those involved in counterfeit crime.
The trade in fake goods involves passing off substandard goods, including clothing, handbags, perfume and electronic goods, as the real thing or pirating copyright materials such as films or music. Serious organised crime groups use the trade in fake goods to generate profit and to fund other forms of serious organised crime, including drug dealing, human trafficking and firearms.
18% of Scots have bought fakes
In a recent survey conducted by Crimestoppers, 30% of people questioned said they didn’t know that buying fake goods might fund serious organised crime. 91% said they wouldn’t buy a fake item if they knew it would fund criminals or criminal activity. 18%of those questioned admitted that they had bought fake goods in the past.
Don't be tempted by fakes
Kate Johnston, Scotland Crimestoppers National Manager said: “Christmas is a time when many are trying to find ways to reduce costs. I would urge the public not to be tempted to buy often cheaper fake goods. The consequences are far wider than the simple transaction. It could be funding serious organised crime.
“Anyone with information about counterfeiting should call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use the online anonymous form. With the public’s help we can crack down on this type of crime across Scotland.”
Re-branding fake goods
The new information generated by the campaign is expected to provide more enforcement opportunities for Trading Standards, and in Renfrewshire will ultimately benefit homeless and vulnerable people.
Normally fake goods are destroyed when they are seized to stop trade mark laws being broken. However, Renfrewshire Council works with the His Church charity which ensures counterfeits goods are rebranded and distributed to the people who need them most, either in this country or overseas.
At today’s joint launch, His Church will receive over £175,000 worth of counterfeit clothing, footwear and accessories from Renfrewshire Council’s Trading Standards, which will be re-branded and donated to needy causes. In return, His Church are delivering food, re-branded clothing and gift packages to over 30 local projects, including the Blue Triangle Housing Association, the George Street Centre, the Elpis Centre, Paisley Homeseekers and Christians Against Poverty. The re-branded clothes include garments from a £1m haul donated by Renfrewshire Council’s Trading Standards to His Church last year, while the toys have been donated by Mattel.
Fake Free Renfrewshire
Councillor Marie McGurk, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Policy Board said, “Our drive for a Fake Free Renfrewshire is based on working with partners using shared intelligence. Criminals don’t recognise bureaucratic boundaries, so agencies have to work together to beat the counterfeiters and copyright crooks. This is why this partnership with Crimestoppers is an important step forward.
“While it is also excellent news that some good is going to come from the counterfeit products we have seized we have to remind people that counterfeiting is not the victimless crime that some of them may think. The proceeds from fake goods often go to organised criminals involved in trafficking drugs, weapons and human beings.
“One reason fake goods are cheap is that they don’t go through the same rigorous safety checks as the genuine articles and they often don’t use the same quality of materials. This means, at best, people are getting a shoddy piece of work and, at worst, something potentially deadly, especially with electrical goods.”
Fakes benefit criminals
Detective Chief Inspector Ronnie Megaughin, Head of Interventions, SCDEA said: “The significant profits that are generated by counterfeiting benefit no-one other than the criminals behind it. Those who are involved in producing and selling fake goods are very often also responsible for pushing drugs in our communities, forcing people into the sex trade and cultivating cannabis in our neighbourhoods, not to mention the fear intimidation and violence associated with this criminality.
“The public have a vital role to play in assisting the authorities in clamping down on these rogue traders. They can refuse to buy these illegal and often unsafe products, and they can anonymously share what they know about the people involved in this crime by contacting Crimestoppers. Even the smallest piece of information can be the key to unlocking a much larger criminal network.
“By working together in this way, we can make it harder for serious organised crime groups to operate and make Scotland a safer place for the majority law-abiding citizens."
Above: Kate Johnston, Councillor Marie McGurk (Renfrewshire) and Keith Harrower (Scambusters) show the seized counterfeit goods they are just about to put in the shredder.
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