Fire hazard phone chargers, exploding cigarette lighters and ‘bling' dummies which could cause a baby to choke are among items that have been seized at car boot sales and markets by trading standards teams.
With markets and car boot sales being held over the Bank Holiday weekend, council trading standards officers will be out in force to ensure people are not ripped off or put in danger by rogue traders.
People are being urged to watch out for dodgy sellers and report any suspicious items to the police or their local council.
As well as rogue traders ripping off the public with thousands of pirate DVDs and video games, investigations by police and councils across the country have also found on sale poorly constructed and dangerous items capable of causing serious injuries.
Cllr Paul Bettison, the Local Government Association's regulatory spokesman, said:
"We all love a bargain, but unfortunately there are some seriously dodgy traders out there who lack a conscience and will try to make a quick buck from selling dangerous goods to unsuspecting customers.
"The vast majority of car boot sales and markets are well run with reputable stall holders, but we do know that these can become a magnet for dodgy traders and criminals. This is why councils put a lot of work into ensuring that shoppers get a fair deal and aren't ripped off or put in danger.
"Money made from selling counterfeits and fakes harms legitimate businesses, costs the economy millions in lost tax revenue and often funds organised criminal gangs. Trading standards teams work closely with the police to tackle this and will have a key role in supporting police and crime commissioners in this work when they take office in November."
Examples of recent operations include:
Toxic e-cigarettes which could cause users an electric shock have recently been seized from markets, car boot sales and shops by Hertfordshire trading standards officers. Approximately 80 of the devices – which are meant to help users quit smoking – have been confiscated after being found to be dangerous. Faulty unsecured mains wiring in the charger would have left users at risk of suffering an electric shock. Packaging also failed to warn that the product contained nicotine.
Fire hazard phone chargers, counterfeit razorblades and fake tobacco were found on sale at a market in Nottinghamshire recently. Trading standards officers from Nottinghamshire County Council were supported by police on the raid at Thoresby Market. Counterfeit tobacco can be unsafe and potentially even more harmful than the genuine item and fake razorblades are often made of low quality stainless steel which can be prone to breaking, chipping or be misaligned which increases the risk of cutting the user.
There is a risk of fire or electrical shocks if phone chargers do not meet safety regulations. The council and market organisers are working together to crack down on counterfeit and illegal products for sale at the weekly market as part of the national ‘Real Deal' charter, which aims to make markets a safer and fairer place to buy goods.
Raids at three markets in Staffordshire this month have led to the seizure of fake goods worth more than £270,000 at legitimate prices. Seven thousand, counterfeit DVDs and computer games, 3,200 fake cigarettes and 80 pouches of black market tobacco were among items seized in a police and trading standard operation at a market in Shenstone Lichfield.
‘Bling' children's dummies and baby bottles which could cause choking and oversized cigarette lighters that can explode into fireballs without warning have been seized at markets and shops by trading standards teams in Surrey in the past year. Tests on almost 200 six-inch lighters revealed the flames commonly failed to extinguish and remain burning invisibly below the wind shield. This led to the plastic parts catching fire and the fuel containers melting, which releases flammable gas and can result in a fireball.
‘Bling' children's dummies and baby bottles that could cause choking and lung problems were also found on sale at markets and car boot sales. Safety tests revealed small ‘gems' attached to the brightly coloured pacifiers and bottles can easily fall off and form into clumps, leading to choking if they are swallowed. The dummies and baby bottles were found to be genuine brands with hand-glued gems, beads and magnets added to them.
Author: LGA Media Office
Contact: Simon Ward, Local Government Association Media Office, Telephone: 020 7664 3333
31 August 2012