Greenwich Council have issued a warning over "unethical" trading, price hiking and refusals to close, and will work with Police where necessary.

There have been reports nationally of businesses taking advantage of the current Covid-19 pandemic, and these issues have also been highlighted to us here at News Shopper and reported to the council.

"Unethical" actions include increasing the price of essential items such as hand sanitiser by up to 10 times the normal price, and selling counterfeit safety items.

In a statement, Greenwich Council urged all businesses to "trade in line with government guidance" and warn that such behaviour can put the public at greater risk as we all try and stop the spread of the outbreak.

The local authority is monitoring all reports of:

  • Businesses trading in contrary to directions to close (following the Prime Minister's lockdown announcement)
  • Sales of goods not in line with either safety of manufacturer requirements
  • And unreasonable price hiking.

The council says it is, as far as is possible, it is working with police and other agencies, and intervening to protect public safety and the rights of consumers.

Cllr Jackie Smith, cabinet member for children services & community safety, said they take a "dim view of anyone looking to take advantage of this current crisis or put people at greater risk.

"Keeping people safe is our priority during this terrible pandemic.

"We will use all of the tools and resources at our disposal to enforce against such individuals or organisations."

Fresh "robust enforcement powers" have been also granted to councils across the UK to enable them, supported by police, to take action to deal with non-compliance to directions to close.

Other powers are or may become available to deal with other unacceptable trading practices.

Licensed premises who are found to be operating illegally may also be subject to review of their licence.

Council leader Danny Thorpe stated: "Local businesses have a critical role to play in keeping our residents and communities safe.

"As well as trading ethically and responsibly, all of us have a responsibility to support the vulnerable and take steps to ensure social distancing is applied and reinforced in public places."

Any trading concerns can be reported to:

Greenwich Council are also encouraging email contact wherever possible at this time due to current staffing levels. Out of normal office hours, please contact: 020 8854 8888, or call the police in an emergency.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are also monitoring profiteering and have set up an online reporting tool.

You are encouraged to use this for national chains particularly, whilst issues relating to local independent retailers should still be reported to the Council's Trading Standards team first.