An early morning raid at a Halifax car boot sale, which led to the largest console chipping seizure ever discovered in the UK, was shown to newly appointed Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls – highlighting the excellent use government funding in the fight against video games copyright crime.
Mr Balls, who is known to be one of Prime Minister Gordon Brown?s closest allies, and who has been the Member of Parliament for Normanton since 2005, was invited by West Yorkshire Trading Standards? Chief Officer, Graham Hebblethwaite, to see for himself the results of Operation Poseidon ? a raid made significantly easier by the aforementioned government funding given to Trading Standards services throughout the UK to enforce the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988).
The discovery, from a residential property in Halifax came about after a raid on the town?s car boot sale on Sunday 29th July, where a 23 year-old man was earlier chased down and arrested. Later in the day, at the man?s premise, West Yorkshire Trading Standards officers and West Yorkshire Police, unearthed a staggering 246 Wii and 168 Xbox 360 consoles with a retail value in excess of ?125,000.
Also seized from the property in the joint operation were: 19 PSPs, 12 DS Lites, six PlayStation 2s (Slimline and standard models) and six PlayStation 3s, along with computers used for the duplication of copied discs, the chips themselves intended for the chipping process, 300-400 copied games discs, and ?5,000 in cash.
The original operation at the market had resulted in two further individuals being arrested for selling copied DVDs and CDs. A total of over 5000 discs were seized with a retail value of over ?50,000.
All consoles have now been sent to ELSPA?s (the Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association) Anti-Piracy Unit (APU) for forensic examination.
Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA commented: ?I congratulate West Yorkshire Trading Standards and west Yorkshire Police for what stands as a landmark seizure of chipped consoles and illegally copied discs. The scale of the operation and the removal of counterfeit material from the market place will have an immediate impact on local businesses in the area.?
Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: ?Copyright crime is driven by greed and causes a loss of millions of pounds to retailers of West Yorkshire and to members of the music and entertainment industry every year. The haul of items from this operation should send out a clear warning to individuals involved in the illegal copyright industry that they will dealt with severely. This sort of crime carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.?
Councillor Geoff Driver, of the Trading Standards Committee, added: ?This service is determined to strike hard against individuals involved in this illegal industry. We will continue to work closely with the Police and industry bodies to ensure that these activities are stamped out. If anybody has more information about this illegal activity then they should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.?
Acting Sergeant Louise Holbrook, of the Halifax Town Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: The arrests and seizures here show that west Yorkshire Police is committed to tackling this and all types of crime. The operation is a good example of partnership work achieving results that should act as a warning to criminals across the region.?
Calderdale Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development, David Kirton, said: ?we are delighted by the outcome of this multi-agency operation. It reinforces the Council?s commitment to keeping our markets free of dishonest traders and hopefully the results of this operation will send a clear message that they are not welcome in Calderdale. It also underlines our on-going proactive approach to maintaining a healthy, honest and vibrant trading platform for all our markets and making sure shoppers and traders are able to continue their business with confidence.?