Safety charity welcomes MPs’ debate on ‘dangerous’ electricals

Charity Electrical Safety First has welcomed the news that MPs have been discussing the importance of its campaign against dangerous and counterfeit electrical products.

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

Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Nick Boles MP, who praised the charity for its campaign, agreed that more needs to be done to protect consumers in the digital age and that a review into how Trading Standards can address this issue was being undertaken by his department.

Research by Electrical Safety First found that a 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 from the genuine article.

It said that the situation is worsening because of the rapid growth in fakes available via social media, where sales of counterfeit items increased by 15 per cent in between 2014 and 2015.

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.

Electrical Safety First has also noted the impact of an increasing complex supply chain in relation to substandard items and called for a tightening of the product recall process. Currently, recalls have only a 10 to 20 per cent success rate, leaving millions of potentially lethal products in people’s homes.

Said Phil Buckle, director general of Electrical Safety First, (pictured): “A fake designer handbag can’t kill you, but a fake or substandard electrical item could.

“Our report, A Shocking Rip-Offthe True Cost of Counterfeit Electrical Products, 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.”

• For more on electrical safety, see the April issue of ERT magazine.