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Fake products seized and dodgy traders behind bars - some of Trading Standards successes

Dozens of counterfeit toys were seized in operations in December

Thousands of fake goods were taken off the streets of Staffordshire in 2019 by the county council's trading standard's team.

In total around 34,300 counterfeit items with an estimated value of £204,000 were removed or prevented from entering the supply chain. 

That includes 24,000 illicit cigarettes with a street value of £12,500. 

It led to shop keepers having their licenses removed and suspended, and traders jailed for selling fake cigarettes.

Other notable successful cases include the prosecutions of four rogue builders from Clayton, a man in Kidsgrove who was selling counterfeit golfing goods on eBay, and a Staffordshire livestock keeper found guilty of a string of animal health charges.

Team manager, Brandon Cook, says stopping dodgy builders operating in the county can have a big impact.

He said: "Those cases are particularly sinister because the people they prey on are really vulnerable.

"We have to get the evidence from these vulnerable people, and often they have had to turn up in court which is quite harrowing.

"But at the end of the day we are protecting other people.

"The prison sentences we have seen handed down should also serve as a deterrent to others."

The team also helped recover around £77,000 last year through the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Brandon says it is put to good use.

He said: "One thing we have spent money on is call blockers for vulnerable people who are getting pestered.

"It stops 99% of all those problem and nuisance calls they are receiving.

"It is really good news that money is grabbed back from the criminals and they can't come out of prison and carry on spending it."

Philip Atkins, Leader at Staffordshire County Council said: “This latest update shows the massive impact that our local trading standards services have in protecting our communities.

"It’s clear that their work delivers huge value – from potentially saving consumers millions of pounds to supporting some extremely vulnerable victims."

One of the areas the team will be focusing on over the next 12 months will be ensuring businesses serving food have clear information on ingredients.

There have been previous incidents in the county of people ending up in hospital after being served food that contains items they are allergic to.

Another challenge facing the team over the next couple of years will be Brexit.

Brandon said: "A phenomenal amount of trading standards legislation is wrapped up in European legislation, such as product safety and food labelling and standards.

"As legislation changes in Europe, will we also change with it? Or will we end up being slightly different. 

"That will be a challenge for our officers who apply the law.

"When businesses ask us about legislation, we will need to know and be able to point them to it.

"We are making as many preparations as we can but we can't know what the future holds at the moment.

"We are in touch with all the relevant people, and our staff will get the relevant training to make sure they know what the law says.

"One of our officers who leads on animal health here is involved in one of the think tanks at a national level to try and make sure we are aaware of what some of the problems may be, so we can be alert to that."

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