Police operation in Camden sees £5 million worth of counterfeit goods seized and three arrested
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Counterfeit clothing, handbags and watches, worth an estimated loss to the industry of £5 million, were seized during raids in Camden, north London.
Officers from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police seized the fake goods from two shops on Camden High Street on Tuesday 15 August 2023.
Three people were arrested on suspicion of distributing articles infringing trademarks.
Detective Sergeant Andrew Masterson, from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police, said:
“Selling counterfeit goods is illegal. It can be tempting to buy a counterfeit designer product for a fraction of the cost of the real thing, but this can have a bigger impact than many people realise. Often, criminals use the profits from counterfeit goods to fuel other organised crime, which can have damaging effects on local communities.
“Over the past few years, there has been a sharp increase in the sale of counterfeit goods in Camden. We found 2,000 counterfeit handbags, worth an estimated loss to the industry of £2 million in one shop alone, which reflects that.
“We hope that this operation sends a clear message that the sale of counterfeit goods will not tolerated.”
In one shop, officers seized 2,487 counterfeit football shirts, jewellery and watches thought to be worth a loss to the industry of £3 million. A further £2 million worth of counterfeit handbags were found in the second shop.
The operation was supported by the City of London Police’s Proactive Crime Team and Support Group, and the Metropolitan Police Service, Camden Council’s Trading Standards, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group and Lighthouse Security.
Following the raids, they were joined by the City of London Police’s Mounted Branch and cadets, and representatives from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to engage with members of the public on the risks of buying and using counterfeit goods, and how to identify them. Tips include:
Check the quality and labels first. It is easy to spot a fake as their labels have spelling mistakes or other distinguishing marks.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be fooled into thinking you are getting a great deal.
Ask the trader to tell you if they provide an after-sales service, warranty or guarantee. Most rogue traders don’t.
Marcus Evans, Deputy Director of Intelligence and Law Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), said:
“Criminals are targeting tourists and consumers in Camden for their own financial gain through the illegal trade in counterfeit goods, with absolutely no regard for the quality or safety of the items being sold. This helps to sustain criminal lifestyles, and causes genuine harms to those workers often exploited during their production.
“It is estimated that the sale of counterfeits contributes to more than 80,000 job losses in the UK each year by diverting funds away from legitimate traders and into the hands of criminals. The IPO has supported law enforcement colleagues in this operation to clamp down on illegal activity and bring those involved to justice, and we continue to work with partners across industry, government, and law enforcement to help empower consumers and raise awareness of the damage counterfeits cause.”
Councillor Richard Olszewski, Cabinet Member for Finance and Cost of Living at Camden Council, said:
“This isn’t about targeting the bargains or quirky buys you can pick up in Camden Town – this is about disrupting a market of illegal, counterfeit goods: knock-off handbags, watches and fake designer clothes. Selling counterfeit goods is a crime. Some customers get conned, some get a poor-quality product and it’s not fair on the independent traders who play by the rules. We’re sending out a message through education and enforcement – Camden Trading Standards and its partners are working together to protect customers and discourage the sale of counterfeit goods in our borough."
Chief Inspector Nicholas Hackett-Peacock, from the Camden Neighbourhoods and Town Centre Teams at the Metropolitan Police Service, said:
“This partnership work is key to supporting our communities and protecting consumers from illegal activity. We encourage anyone to report any concerns they have to our officers or our partners, we are there to listen and support.”
Those arrested have since been released on street bail. The items seized will be recycled.