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Cheetham Hill named the counterfeit capital of the UK

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 19/01/2016 By John Scheerhout

Counterfeit goods seized in Cheetham Hill © Manchester Evening News Counterfeit goods seized in Cheetham Hill Cheetham Hill is THE knock-off capital of the UK, a new Government report reveals.

The trade in counterfeit brands continues to flourish there despite a series of high-profile raids which have seen fake goods worth millions seized by the authorities, according to the Intellectual Property Office.

It is seeking additional funding to help Greater Manchester Police tackle ‘widespread criminality’ in Cheetham Hill.

The latest in a series of raids in the area saw police and trading standards seize goods worth £1.5m during raids at 14 shops before Christmas.

A million counterfeit cigarettes and 70 kilos of fake tobacco with an estimated value of over £5m were seized in 2014.

In 2013 £1m of fake designer clothes, handbags and footwear were intercepted. Fake vodka worth £250,000 was seized in 2010.

But demand for fake designer goods remains high, with Louis Vuitton satchels available for £15, Beats headphones at £5 and Nike shirts at £20.

“It is indicative of the entrenched criminal culture of the area that the trade in counterfeit goods has continued despite regular enforcement action and high-volume seizures,” said the report.

It added: “Cheetham Hill occupies a focal point in the UK market for counterfeit goods. In addition to the significant retail trade occurring directly from premises in the area, there is also information suggesting that local wholesale operations supply counterfeit goods to online and in-person traders across the UK.”

Cheetham Hill’s counterfeiters trade out of shops, private homes, car boots and via the internet using aliases and working through ‘closed’ social media groups.

They have links to serious organised crime, drug dealing and violence, says the report.

The fakers of Cheetham Hill are so ‘embedded’ that agencies like the police, trading standards, the brand-holders and Government departments could not ‘successfully tackle the problem’ on their own.

Clothes shops operate as a ‘front’ for criminal sales of counterfeit goods while the fakers use spotters to alert them about the presence of the authorities.

Nationally some 1.6m fake items were intercepted at border crossings in 2014/15, according to the report.

Some 75,000 of the fakes bore the logo of one un-named brand-holder, it said. The value of the genuine articles would have been £2.5m.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister for intellectual property, said: “Working together we have made a significant impact on intellectual property crime across the UK however problem areas such as Cheetham Hill still exist. This trade, where income tax and consumers safety is simply ignored, undercuts and undermines legitimate businesses and allows other criminality to be funded and flourish.

“The production, distribution, and sale of counterfeit goods has always had close links to serious organised crime, a fact often not considered by the everyday bargain-hunting or cash-strapped consumer. Thanks to the ever increasing partnership between government departments, industry, and law enforcement we are leaving fewer and fewer places for criminals to hide.”

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