PACKS of razor blades - part of a major counterfeit goods haul seized across Wigan borough - are dangerous fakes which pose a significant risk to the public.
Working with police and HM Revenue and Customs, Wigan Council Trading Standards officers first raided a private house in Leigh last Friday after a tip-off from a member of the public. Goods with a street value of more than £14,000 were seized, including 49.5kgs of duty-free tobacco, 120 bottles of duty-free wine and more than 180 packs of fake Gillette razor blades.
The razor blades have hygiene and safety concerns due to the poor manufacturing. Previous fake blades have been blunt and prone to fall apart.
In further raids on Monday, 13,500 cigarettes, 4kgs of tobacco and around 100 fake DVDs were recovered from houses and shops in Wigan, Ince and Hindley. Again, these raids were the result of information from the public. Investigations are continuing.
Coun Kevin Anderson, cabinet champion for communities and the environment, said: “This kind of criminal activity undermines local communities. It is often linked to serious organised criminal gangs and damages the local economy as law abiding shops that pay their taxes simply cannot compete.”
Julie Middlehurst, Chief Trading Standards officer, added: “The potential harm doesn’t end there. Counterfeit goods are not produced with any regard to health and safety and do not undergo the same degree of rigorous testing. As such, the potential risk people take in buying and using substandard goods can be considerable.
“We are also determined to clamp down on those people who deal in duty free or counterfeit cigarettes, from either their home or from their businesses, as we are receiving increasing reports of these illegal cigarettes being sold to children.
“We are grateful to those people who come forward with information because without their help, ridding our neighbourhoods of these illicit and dangerous goods would be all the more difficult.”
Sgt Darren Agnew of Leigh Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Police will continue to work closely with Wigan Council’s Trading Standards to prosecute those who deal in counterfeit or duty free goods. This is not a victimless crime.”