'Dangerous' counterfeits intercepted at UK border

KCC seizureThousands of dangerous and counterfeit goods have been prevented from entering the UK after being seized by Kent Trading Standards from a huge consignment entering Dover Docks on the south coast of England.

Among the 5,470 permanently seized items were nearly 2,000 toys, including 426 character dolls from the blockbuster Disney film Frozen, intended for the Christmas toy market.

There were also 3,000 sets of Christmas lights which were not properly insulated and could have caused electric shocks.

The rest of the consignment of nearly 170,000 items, which originated in China, were refused entry into the EU and were sent back to China after discussions with the importer.

An articulated lorry and a container were stopped by Border Force officers after they were unloaded from the same ship and Trading Standards was alerted.

Kent County Council (KCC) trading standards manager Mark Rolfe says: "This was one of the biggest hauls we have ever seized. Not surprisingly, it was a very time-consuming task for our officers to go through the consignments and examine samples of every product."
The confiscated items include:

  • 426 Frozen dolls, confirmed by Disney as counterfeit;
  • 480 mini laser stage lighting sets, which had no traceability details and were likely to fail safety requirements; and
  • 1,440 Peppa Pig look puffer balls, which contravened trademarks, bore no details of EU manufacturer or EU representative, were leaking an unidentified chemical and were unlikely to pass any safety examination.

KCC seizureA total of 164,400 other products were rejected for non-conformities with EU directives, including 135,924 toys destined for children's Christmas stockings.

Among the rejected items were 160 radio-controlled helicopters which had no manufacturer details on the enclosed plug and the pins on the plug were bent.

Most of the rejected items carried no traceability markings and when requested the importer was unable to provide technical documentation showing that they conformed to EU safety legislation.

Rolfe adds: "After inspecting all the items and carrying out necessary tests, some of them, such as gloves, vanity cases, bracelets and picture frames, were allowed into the EU.

"Some of the items we seized were clearly potentially dangerous and likely to be aimed at the Christmas retail market. We are pleased that we were able to protect the public from these shoddy goods and prevent any injuries they might have caused. Others were counterfeit, so purchasers would have been buying an inferior product to what they expected."

In a subsequent seizure, more than 4,000 counterfeit GHD hair straighteners – conservatively valued at more than £360,000 – were also intercepted at Dover. GHD said these were similar to its 2013 Christmas gift range and it therefore seemed likely that these were also intended as seasonal presents.

Paul Morgan, director of Border Force South East and Europe, says: "Border Force is determined to prevent counterfeiting and we have officers working 24 hours a day at ports, airports and mail sorting centres identifying fake goods before they reach the streets.

"Counterfeit goods cause damage to legitimate businesses and traders and they leave customers out of pocket with inferior and possibly dangerous products.

"We will continue to work closely with KCC Trading Standards and the public can play their part in disrupting the trade by ensuring they only buy from genuine retailers."

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