Massive haul of dangerous goods destroyed

Over £232,000 worth of dangerous products destroyed

More than 28,000 dangerous electrical items destined for UK households have been destroyed this morning following raids on a warehouse full of unsafe electrical products. The dangerous items – destroyed by heavy-duty shredders – were imported in the run-up to Christmas last year and seized by trading standards officers from Enfield Council, on behalf of National Trading Standards, before they ended up in people’s living rooms at Christmas.

The goods destroyed this morning – which had an estimated retail value of over £232,000 – include potentially lethal laptop chargers and adapters, PC tablets, Christmas lights, disco lights, shavers, nail drills, UV gel nail dryers, sat navs, walkie talkies and other electrical products that were imported from China and other countries outside the European Union.

Many of the items shredded were found to have dangerous chargers without fuses, unsafe cabling and battery problems, which can increase the risk of devices overheating, exploding or catching fire. 22 trading standards officers from across London as well as the Metropolitan Police, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and immigration departments participated in the raid, successfully preventing the items being sold online to consumers in the pre-Christmas rush.

The raid was part of a national project funded by National Trading Standards aimed at combatting dangerous imports being sold in the UK.

Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Daniel Anderson, said:

“Using fake electrical products can have lethal consequences and they simply aren’t worth the risk.

“We strongly recommend that you do your research before you purchase electrical products in the confidence that they are safe. It really isn't worth putting your life at risk buying cheap, fake items.

"The best way to guarantee an item's legitimacy is to buy directly from official retailers either online or in-store."

The items seized were being stored in a ‘Fulfilment House’, which is used to store products, receive orders, package and dispatch ordered items to end-consumers. In some cases they also act as a returns address. As the role of Fulfilment Houses in commerce has grown questions have been raised about the quality of the products that are being stored, which are often low-cost goods being handled on behalf of businesses based abroad.

National Trading Standards is supporting local trading standards services to gather intelligence, investigate and take enforcement action where required to help protect consumers from dangerous products being sold via Fulfilment Houses. A number of Fulfilment Houses in England and Wales have been visited and a large number of unsafe products have been removed from the supply chain, including unsafe electrical items.

Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:

“The destruction of these goods sends a strong message to those selling dangerous products without regard for the safety of unsuspecting consumers. Organisations across the consumer protection landscape are working together to put a stop to these dangerous practices.

“It can be tempting to look for a bargain, but we would urge consumers to be on their guard. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Consumer safety is a top priority for National Trading Standards and I am pleased that the products have now been removed from the supply chain.

“If you do suspect any sellers, websites or products of being unsafe we urge you to report them to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”

National Trading Standards is also working with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to tackle the issue of dangerous products being sold via Fulfilment Houses and have delivered joint enforcement action across a number of Fulfilment Houses.

An HMRC spokesperson said:

“We supported National Trading Standards on this joint enforcement action across a number of Fulfilment Houses. The HMRC Imports Taskforce is combatting fraudsters shipping goods to the UK from abroad, without declaring the correct customs duty and VAT, which have already been sold online to UK consumers.

“Taskforces bring together various HMRC compliance and enforcement teams for intensive bursts of activity targeted at specific sectors and locations where there is evidence of high risk of tax evasion and fraud.”

To prevent dangerous goods being imported into the country, National Trading Standards also works at national entry points to monitor and detain unsafe or noncompliant items.

National Trading Standards’ advice for consumers
Although it’s difficult to be 100% certain that a website or seller you are buying from is legitimate, there are some simple things you can do to increase the odds that you’re buying from an honest trader. Here is National Trading Standards’ checklist to help you buy safe:
  • Don’t be dazzled by a bargain: Are the prices incredibly low? If they look too good to be true, they probably are – particularly if some of your other checks have put doubts in your mind.
  • Be aware that criminals exploit high demand: When items like branded children’s toys start to sell out at well-known retailers, the void is quickly filled by crooks churning out poor quality imitations that can put children in danger. Don’t ‘panic buy’ from the first website you find – do your usual common-sense checks.
  • Look closely at the website before you hit the ‘buy’ button:
    • Try searching for reviews of the product or the seller – do these seem genuine?
    • Are there lots of spelling or grammar mistakes on the site? This can be a clue that a business is not professionally run.
    • See if you can find out where the company’s head office is based – and whether that fits with how the website presents itself.
    • Do they have a landline number you can call if there are any problems? Bear in mind that if the company is based abroad, it can be more difficult to get a complaint dealt with or return a faulty product.
    • Read the small print – notice if anything seems odd, repetitive or in incorrect English.
    • Is there an ‘s’ at the end of the ‘http’ part of the web address, or is there a padlock symbol in the task bar? This means the website is using an encrypted system that keeps your details more secure.
  • Report it: National Trading Standards needs your help to clamp down on unsafe products from abroad. If you believe that any online or face-to-face seller is selling potentially dangerous goods, or something you’ve bought has made you suspicious, report it to Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.

Notes to Editors

For more information about this case contact National Trading Standards please call 020 7025 7570 or e-mail

Notes to editors

About National Trading Standards

  • National Trading Standards provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
  • The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.

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