Ninety per cent of Scots do not associate the sale of fake products with organised crime, a worrying new study has revealed.
That is despite police and other crime fighters believing it is often used to fund other, more harmful activity, such as drug smuggling and extortion.
The report, commissioned by the Scottish Government, is the first time communities in Scotland have been surveyed on the issue.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “We know that serious organised criminals in Scotland will be tenacious in exploiting every avenue in human misery to make money from their illegal doings.
“Buying fake designer handbags, watches and sunglasses might be seen as a victimless way to get something desirable on the cheap, but there is no doubt that many of these items have a long back story of criminality, often involving violence.”
Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, lead officer for crime and operational support, added: “Combating serious organised crime is a key priority for Police Scotland. Targeting the structures of organised crime, attacking the mechanisms through which criminals make illegal profits and preventing communities being undermined by it is a core function of the specialist crime division.”