Local authority leaders have warned people to be careful of counterfeit toys and suspect online sellers in the run up to Christmas following recent seizures of harmful products.
The latest industry figures show that more than 4.2 million counterfeit products, including toys, worth £21m were seized by councils in 2018/19.
These included 54,000 teddy bears which posed a choking hazard and fake toys, such as L.O.L Surprise! Dolls, which contained phthalates, a chemical which can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system.
The Local Government Association (LGA) urged shoppers to look for the authentic CE mark on toys or their packaging which confirms they meet consumer safety standards before purchasing.
‘Christmas is a hotbed for criminals who put profit before safety by selling dangerous, counterfeit toys at cheap prices to unsuspecting shoppers,’ said Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board.
‘Bargain hunters need to be aware that fake, substandard toys can break and cause injuries or pose choking hazards, toxic materials can cause burns and serious harm, while illegal electrical toys can lead to fires or electrocution.
‘It’s not unusual for rogue sellers to cash in on desperate shoppers by selling fake versions of “must-have” toys sold out in well-known retailers, or claim to have them in stock on their website when they actually don’t exist.
‘Not only is selling fake toys a crime, it harms and ruins the reputation of genuine traders, costs the economy millions in lost tax revenue and often funds organised crime.’
‘To help avoid buying fake and dangerous toys, shoppers should check toys have an authentic CE mark which show they comply with safety regulations, look out for grammar and spelling errors on packaging, buy from well-known and reputable outlets, and resist cheap offers that look too good to be true,’ Cllr Blackburn added.