Dogs sniff out illegal tobacco

Sniffer dog

Two specialist sniffer dogs helped find a hidden stash of illegal tobacco on North Tyneside.

The dogs, which can detect counterfeit or illegal tobacco, were used in a joint operation by North Tyneside Council’s Trading Standards team and Northumbria Police.

They are trained to locate tobacco in hidden concealments, such as in ceiling areas, behind panels and under floorboards.

Based on intelligence received, searches were carried out yesterday (Tuesday, December 1) at four off-licences in the North Shields area.

In one of them, a Working Cocker Spaniel, called ‘Yoyo’ discovered two hidden compartments beneath shelving under the store’s counter.

Inside were dozens of packets of Super King and Mayfair cigarettes as well as hand rolling Turner tobacco. The seized items were a mixture of counterfeit products and those that had no duty paid.

The Trading Standards team is now conducting an investigation following the seizure.

Cllr John Harrison, cabinet member for Environment and Transport, said: “I welcome this enforcement activity by our Trading Standards team and Northumbria Police.”

Chief Inspector Nicola Musgrove said: “This is an excellent example of partnership working to combat harm being caused in the community.

“The sale of illegal cigarettes costs the public purse billions each year in unpaid duty, not to mention the obvious 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.

“Anyone who has any concerns in their neighbourhood should speak to their local officers.”

North Tyneside Council’s Trading Standards service is delivered on behalf of the local authority by its partner Capita.