HALTON trading standards officers will be able to seize the assets of criminals selling counterfeit goods or tradesmen carrying out shoddy work.
Staff will be able to use the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to ensure that wrongdoers are properly punished.
Recent court cases have seen defendants in trading standards prosecutions receiving paltry fines.
A council report revealed: 'In some instances defendants were able to pay immediately as fines were so low. This did nothing to deter future offending, was demoralising for investigators and such low penalties did not remove the financial means from offenders to prevent them from continuing their criminality.
'Nor did it send a strong message to other would-be offenders that 'crime does not pay'.'
In other parts of the UK, trading standards officers have used the Asset Recovery Agency to secure confiscation orders of nearly £1m.
Halton's Consumer Protection Service now has an officer fully trained under the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act -one of only 27 in the country. The officer can use the act where the person under investigation has benefited by more than £5,000 from their criminal conduct.
And the council's trained asset recovery staff could be 'leased' out to help other local authorities confiscate criminal assets.
However, the report warns: 'If assets recovery work does prove to be an effective enforcement tool, more local authorities may consider training their own officers as financial investigators.
'This may reduce the number of external referrals we receive over time.
'In addition, obtaining a confiscation order is one thing, obtaining the money is quite another.'