More than 1,000 cigarettes and 55 cases of wine seized from Stevenage shop in illegal tobacco and alcohol crackdown

About 1,200 cigarettes were seized at a Stevenage shop which is under investigation.

About 1,200 cigarettes were seized at a Stevenage shop which is under investigation. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A Stevenage shop is being investigated as part of a crackdown on the sale of fake or untaxed tobacco and alcohol.

A tobacco detection dog was used to visit two premises in the town suspected of wrongdoing and find hidden stashes, with £1,200 cigarettes, 160 pouches of hand rolling tobacco, 55 cases of wine and seven bottles of spirits seized from one business for further examination.

The multi-agency team – made up of Herts Trading Standards officers, HM Revenue & Customs and Herts County Council’s public health officers – carried out the raids after acting on intelligence.

If the goods are fake or duty has not been paid the shop – which has not been named at this stage – will be prosecuted.

Councillor Richard Thake, responsible for community safety at County Hall, said: “It is extremely disappointing that some shopkeepers think they can get away with selling fake products and not paying duty on goods.

“In particular, those involved in dealing in illegal tobacco may be encouraging people, including children, to smoke by providing a cheap source.

“This operation should send out a clear warning to shopkeepers that we will take action to stop illicit trading of this nature. Any business owners who are unclear about the law should contact us for advice.”

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Stuart Taylor from the HMRC’s criminal investigation team added: “The sale of illegal tobacco and alcohol will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2 billion a year, and the sale of illicit alcohol which costs the UK around £1bn per year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.

“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to contact the customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.”