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Sunday 23rd December 2012 | 10:08
Local Government Association press release
Last-minute Christmas shoppers are being urged to be vigilant against cons, fakes and dangerous counterfeit toys which could cause serious injuries to children.
Poisonous face paints, eye-damaging laser swords and counterfeit dolls which present a choking risk are among the dangerous goods recently found on sale at shops, markets and streets sales across the country by trading standards teams.
Officers have also seized millions of pounds worth of counterfeit designer goods and a significant number of fake Beats by Dr Dre headphones. Staffordshire County Council recently seized £15 million worth of counterfeit clothes, CDs, DVDs and electrical items in what officers believe to be one of the UK’s biggest ever hauls of counterfeit goods.
In the remaining few days leading up to December 25, councils are urging shoppers to be savvy and look out for fakes which could cause a Christmas catastrophe.
Cllr Paul Bettison, the Local Government Association’s Regulation spokesman, said:
“It may be the season of goodwill, but there are some unscrupulous con artists out there who will rip people off and put a child’s safety at risk just to make a quick buck.
“Times are tight and at this time of year people will be shopping around for deals trying to get the best presents they can afford for loved ones.
“It is particularly appalling that dodgy dealers are trying to exploit the festive season by making money out of duping people into buying dangerous toys which could seriously harm the young children who receive them as presents. The consequences could be catastrophic.
“We have seen toxic face paints on sale which could cause nerve damage, lasers which may lead to blindness and other poorly made toys which could present a choking hazard for the very young children at which they are aimed.
“We would urge shoppers to stay savvy and ensure Christmas doesn’t get ruined by a rogue trader. No bargain is worth putting a child’s safety at risk.
“Check what you’re buying, make sure it has a CE marking, and if it really seems like a deal that’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
“Local authorities do a vital job protecting people from rip-offs and scams. In these difficult financial times councils are working hard to ensure that trading standards departments still have the resources to protect the public from dishonest traders and criminals. It is crucial that government puts local authorities on a sustainable financial footing to ensure councils can continue protecting the public.”
Poisonous face paints:
More than 7,000 poisonous face paint sets which could potentially cause serious harm to children were sold to shops in Salford and Rochdale. A trading standards investigation by Salford Council found that the Tartan Collection paint sets included lead which can be absorbed through the skin and cause nerve damage, particularly in children. The council is warning parents to be on the lookout for the face paint sets, some of which may have been bought as Christmas presents. The firm which imported the paints has since been prosecuted for breaching product safety laws and ordered to pay more than £14,000.
Eye-damaging laser swords:
Street vendors were found selling toy swords with flashing lasers so powerful that they could be seen on buildings over 100m away. The beam from the “BL Flashing Stick” could cause permanent damage to the retina if aimed at someone’s eye. Nearly 70 were seized from street vendors at Weston Carnival by North Somerset Council trading standards officers.
More than 300 counterfeit dolls judged to be a risk to children were recently seized by Norfolk County Council trading standards officers. The counterfeit dolls – which were alleged to be legitimate Chinese ‘Xin Ming Yue’ dolls – were poorly made with stuffing easily coming out, and hair and detachable decorations easily falling off, proving a choking hazard for young children.
Counterfeit clothes and headphones:
Hundreds of pairs of fake Beats by Dr Dre headphones, counterfeit CDs and DVDs and a huge haul of counterfeit designer clothing was seized by Staffordshire County Council trading standards last month in a £15 million haul from a storage unit in Birmingham. Officers believe that it could be the biggest seizure of counterfeit goods anywhere in the country.