A new government report reveals that Cheetham Hill is the knock-off capital of the UK. A report by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) revealed that tradable counterfeit brands continue to be distributed in the area despite a series of high profile raids.
The latest in a series of raids saw police and trading standards seize goods worth £1.5m during raids at 14 shops before Christmas. A million counterfeit cigarettes and 70kg of fake tobacco with an estimated value of over £5m were also seized, in 2014.
In 2013, £1m of fake designer clothes, handbags and footwear were intercepted, whilst in 2010 fake vodka with an estimated worth of £5m was seized. But demand for fake designer goods is still high, with Louis Vuitton satchels available for £15 and beats headphones available for £5.
Cheetham Hill’s counterfeiters trade out of shops, car boots, private homes and through the internet, where they utilise false identities and work through ‘closed’ social media groups.
The IPO report stated that the concentration of counterfeiters in the area has led to criminality such as drug dealing, money laundering and violence. The report also stated that “no single agency” could tackle the issue.
Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe has said that Cheetham Hill is “almost like the counterfeit capital of the UK” before adding that the issue was a “national problem’’.
Baroness Neville-Rolfe also said that this report “signals the start of a concerted effort to disrupt and dismantle crime groups operating in nationally significant trade”. The government funded Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, which has specialists in counterfeit crime, has been handed £3m by IPO.
The report itself revealed, “Amongst law enforcement, rights-holders and in the media, Cheetham Hill is anecdotally referred to as the ‘Counterfeit Street”.
TNT News Billy Rooney
photo credit: HM Revenue and Customs