Tackling the estimated billions of pounds lost and personal safety dangers of illicit trade in counterfeit goods should be a New Year's resolution for Scotland, according to leading industry trade bodies.

The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) Scottish Grocers' Federation (SGF) and Scottish Anti-Illicit Trade Group (SAITG) will highlight the issue at a Parliamentary Reception hosted by Jenny Marra, MSP for North East Scotland, on January 15 when they will shine a spotlight on the escalating financial and community cost of illicit trade throughout Scotland.

Kate Salmon, executive director of the Scottish Wholesale Association, said: "The illicit trade of goods hurts Scottish businesses significantly, particularly Scottish wholesalers. In these challenging economic times, more and more people are turning to cheaper products which have been imported illegally or are counterfeit products. This is leading to lost profit for wholesalers who can no longer afford to subsume the cost of illicit trade.

"Quite simply, the sale of these products can no longer be tolerated in Scotland and the SWA is determined to do everything within its power - alongside our partners in the law-enforcement and business communities - to counter this very serious problem."

John Drummond, chief executive of the Scottish Grocers Federation, added: "Responsible retailers across Scotland are under threat because of the illicit trade of many of the products they sell. Responsible retailers are being hit hard in the pocket by criminals and rogue retailers undercutting shop prices and selling fake tobacco, alcohol and other products.

"Convenience stores operate at the heart of Scottish communities and to see jobs lost and shops threatened with closure due to the illicit trade and criminal behaviour is unacceptable. The SAITG is a real chance for us to stamp out illicit trade in Scotland."

Police Inspector Alan Dron, chair of the Scottish Anti Illicit Trade Group, commented: "Police Scotland is all about 'Keeping People Safe' and this reception affords an excellent opportunity to build on the unique approach developed to reduce the scale, impact and cost of illicit trade and counterfeiting in Scotland."

Dron added: "Criminals have no scruples, all they care about is making money and it would be naive of anyone to think they care about the consequences of selling dangerous products to unwitting consumers. Those involved in illicit trade are very often implicated in other forms of serious organised crime, channelling the money made from selling illicit and counterfeit goods into drug dealing, human trafficking and money laundering.

"Collectively, we can help tackle this problem through raising awareness and changing perceptions. We must influence the public not to buy illicit or counterfeit products while supporting legitimate businesses. This will make Scotland a hostile environment for serious organised criminals."

Notes to Editors

  • September 2013, saw results published from a report commissioned by the Scottish Government examining public perceptions of serious organised crime in Scotland. Surveying communities across Scotland, the report indicated that almost 90% of Scots did not consider trade in counterfeit goods to be associated with organised crime.
  • The Parliamentary reception will be hosted by Jenny Marra MSP on January 15 in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament. The reception is by invitation only.