A group of shops in the Strangeways area which were being used to sell counterfeit goods have been shut down by Manchester City Council officers.
The council obtained a Premises Closure Order to put an end to ongoing anti-social and criminal behaviour associated with the shops, at 1-7 Harris Street.
Officers have secured the premises and access is now prohibited, at all times and in all circumstances. The defendant in the case, Dharminder Singh Kasbia, was also ordered to pay legal costs of £11,197.50.
The order follows a raid conducted on 11 September 2018 by the council's Trading Standards team, in partnership with Greater Manchester Police, Immigration Enforcement officers, the council's Anti-Social Behaviour team and representatives from the Anti-Counterfeiting Group. Four properties, consisting of eight rooms in total, were found to contain large quantities of counterfeit goods during the operation.
Conservative estimates of the value of the goods seized are in the region of £2.5m (retail value), or £500,000 (street value). In addition to fake handbags, jewellery, trainers, sunglasses, scarves, belts, headphones and watches, officers also found 5,000 prescription drug tablets in a bag, plus items which were seized as weapons, including a lump hammer, claw hammer and a modified pair of scissors.
Shopkeepers were alerted to officers arriving to conduct the raid by ‘spotters’ and fled, before locking the shops. As a result, four members of the public were trapped inside the premises and had to be freed by officers from GMP, who smashed through a heavily fortified gate at the side of the premises. The innocent members of the public told officers that they were left shaken by the experience.
This is the first time that a Premises Closure Order has been used to close premises selling counterfeit goods in Manchester. The order was brought due to the illegal activity, disorder and nuisance associated with the premises.
The order was granted in Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court on 8 October 2018 and remains in place until 7 January 2019. Anyone entering the premises during the three-month order can be arrested.
The initial period can be extended for a further three months, if the council and courts are not satisfied that the premises will no longer be associated with crime and disorder.
Kasbia, 51, of Bury Old Road, Salford had previously been warned to prevent his premises from being used to sell counterfeit goods, but disregarded these warnings.
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Clamping down on the criminality conducted from these addresses has taken a real partnership effort and I’d like to thank all of the agencies who helped our team to secure this important closure order.
“The counterfeiting of goods is dishonest and puts our residents at risk of harm from potentially hazardous products - we will not tolerate this in Manchester.
“This action makes it clear that we will fight hard against any activities that inflict criminal activity, nuisance behaviour, or disorder on our neighbourhoods.”
Graham Mogg, of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, said: ‘’The sale of counterfeit goods undermines the rights of legitimate businesses, impacts on the local economy, breeds anti-social behaviour and funds serious crime. The ACG is committed to working with partners to reduce the risk associated with this criminal activity.
"This action should send out a message to everyone who thinks that the sale of counterfeit goods and anti-social behaviour will be tolerated.
"We would like to thank all those that took part in this action and look forward to supporting similar developments in the future.’’
Superintendent Umer Khan of GMP’s City of Manchester division added: “The safety of the people of Greater Manchester is our priority and closing these stores ensures unsuspecting shoppers are no longer at risk.
“We hope this closure acts as a warning to others that the sale of illegal goods will not be tolerated within our region.”