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'Banned' Aid – Council-seized counterfeits help the world's poor
Monday 18th January, 2010

'Banned' Aid – Council-seized counterfeits help the world's poor
Wigan Council’s Cabinet Champion for Lifestyles Cllr Paul Prescott and Principal Trading Standards Officer Terry Gregson with some seized counterfeit goods that could be heading to help the poor across the world.

Who says that crime doesn’t pay?

Because some of the world’s poorest communities are certainly benefiting from the proceeds of criminal activity, thanks to Wigan Council.

The council’s Trading Standards team is at work through the year tracking down villains and con-artists in our borough who are trying to exploit the lucrative trade in illegal counterfeit goods.

From bags and watches through to designer clothing and shoes the trade in counterfeit goods is a world-wide problem that costs legitimate businesses many millions in lost revenue each year. The trade is also heavily linked to other areas of organised crime and often exploits cheap labour in poor communities across the world.

When Trading Standards come across a haul of fakes the team acts quickly. Typically the goods are confiscated and you can be sure that prosecutions including hefty fines and sometimes even prison sentences often follow.

But what happens to all those fakes that the council confiscates?
Well recently the team contacted Preston-based charity the International Aid Trust to see if they could find a good home for the thousands of items of clothing and shoes taken from illegal traders.

The International Aid Trust regularly sends two container loads of aid each week to people in desperate need of help across the globe.

The fake clothes and shoes seized in Wigan have their logos removed by the charity before winging their way all over the world.

Founder of the International Aid Trust, the Rev Bernard Cocker says: “We can’t thank Wigan Council’s Trading Standards team enough! We work with some of the world’s poorest, children in orphanages, in children’s rescue centres, old people’s homes, hospitals, young offenders’ institutes, poor families and other needy areas.

“It is an absolute blessing to see smiling faces and hope instead of despair.”
The Rev Cocker adds: “Poor people are having their faith in human nature restored. “Just the fact that someone thousands of miles away cares about them, even though they have never met, gives them real hope.”

Wigan Council’s Cabinet Champion for Lifestyles, Cllr Paul Prescott says: “The trade in counterfeit goods is not a victimless crime because many legitimate traders in our borough can see their business suffer thanks to these items.

“It also has links to more serious and sinister organised crime so it’s really great to see these items being put to good use and helping people who really need them. The council is committed to cracking down on this type of criminal activity in our borough and helping those who need it most. Of course our eventual aim is to stop the counterfeiters altogether but until then this is great way of using the fakes they produce. With a plan like this, the only people who lose out are the counterfeiters.”

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