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Illegal workers, unlicensed medicines and banned skin lightening products allegedly found in Dalston shops

PUBLISHED: 10:54 19 August 2013 | UPDATED: 10:54 19 August 2013

Beauty Queens Cosmetics in Kingsland High Street, photo credit Emma Bartholomew

Beauty Queens Cosmetics in Kingsland High Street, photo credit Emma Bartholomew

Archant

Unlicensed medicines and banned skin lightening products were seized from two Dalston premises on Thursday, and four men were arrested for immigration offences.

Suspected unlicensed medicines and banned skin lightening products were seized from two Dalston premises last Thursday, and four men were arrested for immigration offences.

Around 3,000 steroid products – which should only be available on prescription – and, approximately 1,000 counterfeit skin lightening products, including facial whitening creams and soaps, were allegedly found.

A policewoman was stopping customers entering one of the targeted shops, Beauty Queens Cosmetics in Kingsland High Street.

The operation was carried out by the Home Office Immigration Enforcement, working with Hackney Council and the Dalston Safer Neighbourhoods Team.

It is suspected the skin lightening products contain Hydroquinone, a dangerous banned substance which harms skin.

Hydroquinone, which has been illegal since 2001, works by suppressing the skin’s production of melanin – which gives the skin colour – and it can cause serious side effects.

Preventing the natural production of melanin means the skin has much less protection from the sun and ultra violet light, which increases the risk of skin cancer and causes premature ageing of the skin.

Some skin lightning products can also contain mercury, a toxic metal which causes cause kidney and neurological problems.

It is also illegal to sell unlicenced steroid creams, which should only be available on prescription because of their potency and potential to seriously damage health.

Short-term symptoms include extremely itchy skin and skin burning, which often leads to significant scarring, while long-term use damages internal organs and can result in liver and kidney failure.

Tests will be carried out on all the seized products to find out which substances they contain.

The council has warned members of the public to be cautious of any product offered from under the counter, because cosmetic products are only ever banned for good reason.

Hackney Council has been given permission from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to take action under Human Medicines Regulations 2012.

Those breaching the regulations can receive a maximum two-year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine.

A Home Office spokesman said four men were arrested for immigration offences following checks on staff as part of the operation.

“We regularly work with partner agencies to combat illegal working and other offences,” he said.

In March trading standards officers seized illegal prescription drugs and skin lightening products Caro Light, Skin Light and Rapid Clair, which were found on sale at Obaako in Ridley Road Market.


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