Alfie, a three-year-old collie and springer spaniel cross trained to sniff out tobacco and large amounts of cash, helped officers from Borough of Poole and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs with visits to ten premises across the borough as part of Operation Henry, a crackdown on the illicit tobacco happening across nine regions in England. The visits, carried out on 14 July, followed tip-offs by members of the public about the availability of cheap, illegal tobacco products in Poole.
The operation found several stores of tobacco on the day but these were all subsequently found to be genuine products. Officers were encouraged that no illegal tobacco, either counterfeit or smuggled non-duty paid product, were detected during the operation.
Peter Haikin, Regulatory Services Manager, Borough of Poole, said: “We are pleased to see that no illicit tobacco supplies were found during this operation. Trading Standards will use all available resources to ensure that illegal tobacco is not sold within the borough. Using tobacco detection dogs is an invaluable tool that we will continue to use to tackle the illegal tobacco trade.”
Cllr Xena Dion, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for a Prosperous and Sustainable Poole, Borough of Poole, said: “Having cheap, illegal tobacco available in Poole can make it easier for our children to start smoking, so we are really pleased that no supplies were found. However, we are concerned that the public consistently say it is available locally.
“We would encourage anyone with information about the sales or supplies of illegal tobacco to contact crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Information can be given in confidence and it will be acted upon.”
The local stores visited during the operation were thanked for their co-operation and offered guidance on how to avoid illegal supplies.
Advice for traders, as well as posters and leaflets about illegal tobacco, is available from Borough of Poole on 01202 261700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information on the illegal tobacco campaign is available at www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk.