1. ITV Report

Dogs sniff out thousands of illegal cigarettes in raid

Thousands of illegal cigarettes were seized as part of a series of raids across North Tyneside.

Raids were carried out on Monday in a joint operation involving North Tyneside Council’s Trading Standards team and Northumbria Police using two specialist sniffer dogs.

The crime-busting canines, Yo-Yo and Scamp, are trained to sniff out tobacco which has been hidden in ceilings, behind panels and under floorboards.

Sniffer dog Yo-Yo at work Credit: North Tyneside Council

In one raid 4,800 illegal cigarettes, worth around £2,000, were seized.

The cigarettes did not show the required information, such as whether the tobacco was ‘Duty Paid’ or the required health warnings. Some of the cigarettes were also suspected of being counterfeit.

Yo-Yo found illegal cigarettes in a hold-all and a handbag on the floor behind the premises’ counter and in a counter drawer, which also contained cash. The money was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The dog then sniffed out two sleeves of cigarette packs, each containing 200 illegal cigarettes that were hidden in the arms of a jacket hanging in a back room.

Holdall of cigarettes seized in North Tyneside raid Credit: North Tyneside Council
Cigarettes seized in North Tyneside raid Credit: North Tyneside Council

These criminal activities severely damage the local economy and legitimate traders by gaining a competitive advantage at their expense, and taking trade away from genuine hard-working businesses.

As it becomes harder for under 18s to buy from legitimate sources, illegal tobacco trading creates a cheap source that fuels smoking by young people, giving them habits that put their health at risk into adulthood.

– Cllr John Harrison, cabinet member for Housing and Transport, North Tyneside Council

The sale of illegal cigarettes costs the public purse billions each year in unpaid duty, not to mention the clear health risks associated with smoking which will be felt by young people who these items are regularly sold to.

We will continue to act on intelligence and any information received to put a stop to illegal activities affecting our communities and to ensure those responsible for it are dealt with appropriately.

– Chief Inspector John Barnes for Northern Area Command