Council orders shops flouting lockdown rules to close

Notice which says Manchester City Council: Enforcement Action.

The work to crack down on Manchester’s counterfeit clothes industry had not been interrupted by COVID-19.

On Thursday June 4 officers working for Manchester City Council’s trading standards team were joined by Greater Manchester Police to serve prohibition notices to counterfeit retailers operating in the Strangeways area.

Prohibition notices prevent retailers from allowing customers to enter their premises for any reason. Breach of a prohibition notice can result in prosecution and an unlimited fine.

A total of 28 notices were issued.

While the vast majority of retailers across Manchester have followed Government advice and legal requirements to remain closed to customers, premises in this area have unfortunately begun to completely disregard legal restrictions placed on retail businesses and the safety of their staff and customers.

Over the past 12 months steps have been taken not only to prosecute the criminals behind the sale of counterfeit goods, but to take action against landlords and building owners who allow criminal activity to take place on their property.

The counterfeit goods industry is often viewed as a victimless crime but there are known links between the trade of fake merchandise and organised crime.

Officers were also on patrol to reinforce messages around social distancing reminding local businesses in the area of their responsibilities to keep both the public and their staff safe. The owners of shops who remain open are not just putting themselves at risk, but everyone else they come into contact with.

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a great deal of upheaval in our day to day lives, but, as a Council we were here today to reassure residents that concerns about crime and public safety will not be ignored.

“Criminals need to know that we will not tolerate their illegal behaviour and equally, we will not stand idle as landlords do nothing to prevent criminality on their literal doorstep. Residents of Manchester are reminded that non essential retail businesses remain closed to access and that by visiting counterfeit traders in this area they are putting their health at risk as well as funding organised crime.”

Superintendent Rebecca Boyce at Greater Manchester Police said: “Many businesses across Greater Manchester have been complying with government guidelines and legal requirements and we appreciate the ways in which people and business owners have adapted to these changes. However, there have been a small minority that have continued to remain open, which is risking the health of their staff and anyone that enters the premises.

“We understand the disruption these regulations have made to everyone’s lives, however they are in place to protect everyone and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“This day of action is part of the Operation Magpie approach, which aims to highlight intellectual property crime, counterfeiting and the associated crime and anti-social behaviour in the areas of Cheetham Hill and Strangeways.”

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