More than 4,000 packets of illegal cigarettes seized in Northamptonshire police raids

Phoebe the sprocker spaniel after her successful raid
Phoebe the sprocker spaniel after her successful raid

More than 4,000 packets of illicit cigarettes and 175 pouches of illicit hand-rolling tobacco were seized by police and Northamptonshire trading standards.

Some of the illicit products were seized on during inspection visits across the county, conducted by trading standards and attended by HMRC officials and Northamptonshire Police as part of Operation Henry.

Indie, a black labrador, and Milo, a springer spaniel, helped search for the concealed stashes of tobacco at seven premises.

In addition to the Operation Henry visits, trading standards carried out further visits two days later supported by HMRC, Northamptonshire Police and tobacco dogs from B.W.Y. Canine.

On this occasion Phoebe, a sprocker spaniel (above), and Scamp, a springer spaniel, helped detect concealed stashes of tobacco at a further seven premises.

Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for public protection, said: “Those involved in dealing in illegal tobacco may be encouraging people, including children to smoke by providing a cheap source.

“The detection dogs can find tobacco and cigarettes even if hidden in the most unlikely places. Offenders need to know that they will face consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products. “

The seizure included foreign labelled and suspected counterfeit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco which cannot legally be sold in the UK. The visits were conducted following intelligence gathered by Trading Standards indicating where illicit tobacco could be purchased.

Operation Henry, which runs from April to September 2014, cracks down on the supply of illicit 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. Results are then collated by the TSI.

Anyone being offered cheap tobacco or any other types of illicit goods should report it to trading standards, anonymously if preferred, via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06.