News item

Sniffer dogs find more than £40,000 of counterfeit and smuggled tobacco

Buster, a collie, and Bertie, a collie-cross, helped trading standards officers uncover hidden stashes at six premises in the borough. 

The haul included approximately 63,400 cigarettes, 130 packets of tobacco and 25kg of shisha tobacco. Some of the tobacco was examined and found to be mouldy. A batch of 15 pouches of counterfeit '50g Golden Virginia' tobacco was weighed and the average was found to be around 29g , a deficiency of over 40%.!. 

Trading standards will now carry out interviews to decide what action to take, including possible prosecution. 

The operation was part of a crackdown on illicit and counterfeit tobacco across nine regions in England. 

Each region receives eight days of dog detection provided by Wagtail UK and funded by the Department of Health. 

Councillor Paul Moore, Sandwell Council's cabinet member for Trading Standards, said "The detection dogs can find tobacco and cigarettes even if it is hidden in the most unlikely places. 

"Offenders need to know they will face consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products." 

The partnership allows trading standards officers to identify illicit tobacco 'hot spots' by sharing information with Her Majesties Revenue and Customs. 

Bob Charnley, Sandwell Council's Trading Standards and Licensing manager, said:  "trading standards works closely with other enforcement agencies to crack down on illicit tobacco in the UK. 

'Seizing illicit product is only one of the tools used; the focus is on using a range of interventions, from penalties to prosecutions, to encourage compliance and maximise deterrent. 

Leon Livermore, chief executive of TSI, said: "This partnership is one more example of how trading standards works with the private and public sectors to protect consumers and support legal business practices. 

"Through this partnership, trading standards has a unique opportunity to share information and develop intelligence with the aim of taking illicit tobacco off the streets." 

DATE: 12 September 2014