EVOLVE Wirral seizes thousands of pounds of counterfeit goods

Officers working to crackdown on serious and organised crime in EVOLVE Wirral have been involved in a Trading Standards operation targeting convenience stores selling illegal items.

The operation took place earlier this month and resulted in the seizure of around £15,000 of illegal tobacco, vapes, and cash.

Sergeant Pete Hanson, one of the officers from EVOLVE Wirral, said, “We take the sale of counterfeit goods extremely seriously.

“It is often linked to organised crime groups who use the sale of these goods to fund their illegal activity, which can have a devastating impact on communities.

“We are working hard with our partners in EVOLVE Wirral to break the business and recruitment models of organised crime groups to improve the safety of those living, working and visiting Wirral.

“However, to have the greatest impact we need information from the public to tell us about any illegal activity they are aware of so we can take action.

“This can either be through a direct report to us or via the independent charity Crimestoppers, which is completely confidential and no-one but you will ever know you made that report.”

EVOLVE Wirral is one of three Clear, Hold, Build projects in Merseyside working to improve the lives of communities that have been blighted by serious and organised crime.

A spokesperson for Wirral Trading Standards added, “Products like vapes and e-cigarettes can be a useful tool to help adults to quit smoking cigarettes, but increasingly young people – who are too young to legally buy these products – are being targeted with items that are being sold illegally.

“Often these products are untested and unlicensed and pose a risk to the health of anyone who uses them as no-one knows what they contain.

“Working alongside the police, Wirral’s Trading Standards acts on information and intelligence to target those involved in this illicit trade, seize the goods to get them off the market and ultimately, hopefully, bring offenders to justice.”

Wirral’s Trading Standards team often uses ‘secret shopper’ type operations to prove a premises is selling to underage customers – and it does that by using real underage volunteers. The team is currently on the look out for young volunteers to support future investigations.

Volunteers work under close supervision of Trading Standard officers who have had been checked through the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) at an enhanced level in accordance with best practice procedures.

The spokesperson for Wirral Trading Standards added, “It is a rewarding opportunity for young people to assist the local authority in combating underage sales, which in turn helps towards protecting young peoples’ health and improving Wirral’s communities.

“If you know someone who is interested please email us at tradingstandards@wirral.gov.uk.”  

Anyone with any information about counterfeit goods, or any other crime, is asked to call Merseyside Police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Image: Merseyside Police

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