The Government has acknowledged the importance of the leading safety charity Electrical Safety First’s campaign against dangerous electrical items.

This was recently highlighted by media headlines around damage caused by white goods such as tumble-dryers and gadgets such as hoverboards.

At a recent Westminster Hall debate, MPs discussed not only the flood of fakes entering the UK – particularly through online outlets – but also the issue of substandard items.

Nick Bowles MP, Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, agreed that more needs to be done to protect consumers in our digital age.

Electrical Safety First found that a shocking quarter of us have knowingly bought a counterfeit item and a third would consider doing so, if it saved money or if they saw no difference to the genuine article. And the situation is worsening due to the rapid growth in fakes available via social media, where sales of counterfeit items increased by 15% in 2014 – 2015 alone.

Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, who arranged the Westminster Hall debate and whose constituent, Linda Merron, died in a fire caused by a faulty air purifier bought on eBay, highlighted not only the prevalence and danger of counterfeit goods but also the problem of substandard components in electrical items.

Currently, recalls have only a 10-20% success rate, leaving millions of potentially lethal products in people’s homes.

While counterfeit is not the same as substandard, it isn’t surprising that many fakes ignore safety and technical regulations.

“A fake designer handbag can’t kill you but a fake or substandard electrical item could,” explains Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First.

“Our report found that the key reason fakes are sold so cheaply is that they contain ‘shortcuts’ – omitting components entirely, or using substandard ones, which can significantly impact on a product’s safety and functionality. And the increasing sophistication of fake products means that often, the only way to identify them as counterfeit is by checking their internal components – not something consumers are likely to do!”

Did you know?

  • The market for fake goods in the UK has been estimated at £1.3 Billion.
  • Between 2009 and 2012, the UK saw a six-fold increase in the seizure of counterfeit goods – rising from £2.6 million to £15.7 million.
  • London Fire Brigade estimates that, on average, white goods such as dishwashers and tumble dryers, are involved in one fire each day in London.

Visit the policy and research section of our website at www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk.