My officials and the Intellectual Property Office have met online retailers to reduce the availability of counterfeits on their platforms and to help to co-ordinate law enforcement action against sellers. The dedicated IP crime unit that was launched by the coalition Government investigates sales of counterfeit goods. In October 2014, the Government rightly introduced a criminal sanction to address intentional copying of products protected by registered design.
Research undertaken by Electrical Safety First has found that 64% of counterfeit products are now purchased online, with sales via social media increasing by 15% every year. Have the Government considered the impact of this trend on consumers and the industry itself?
I thank the hon. Lady for giving me notice of her supplementary question, because I can now give her a proper and good answer; otherwise, she would have just heard me say, “I will happily meet her.” I will happily meet her, but I can also say that the Government, industry and law enforcement are working together to tackle the threat posed by online sales of counterfeit electrical goods. We have something called Operation Jasper, a partnership between trading standards and industry that has been targeting the sellers of counterfeit goods, particularly on Facebook, and has succeeded in removing thousands of listings and users’ profiles.
In my constituency in South Lanarkshire, which is home to the headquarters of the Scottish fire and rescue service, 214 house fires were caused by faulty electrical items in the past five years alone. As trading standards are largely enforced locally, online sales might be harder to tackle, so what is the Government’s strategy for curbing the rising online trade in counterfeit electricals?
I think that I have answered that question, but the hon. Lady makes an important point about some of the dangers from faulty goods, especially those sold online. I was delighted that Lynn Faulds Woods, whom hon. Members will know from her various campaigns over the years to ensure that people are kept safe, has been working with the Government. She produced an excellent report and her work continues in how we are looking at policy to make things better and safer.