Two convenience stores in Bedford have had their alcohol licences revoked after secret stashes of illegal and counterfeit cigarettes were found hidden on their premises.
Officers from Bedfordshire Police’s Licensing Team carried out a joint operation with Bedford Borough Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) looking for illicit tobacco and counterfeit alcohol. Specialist trained officers and a specialist search dog took part in the action in July, focusing on several suspected shops in the Midland Road area of Bedford.
Two shops were found to have large quantities of illicit tobacco secreted in specially constructed hides within their premises. This tobacco was split into illicit, non-duty paid and counterfeit.
The stores were Kubus in Greyfriars and Ideal Supermarket in Midland Road, Bedford. Both are facing prosecution by HMRC.
At a licence review hearing on Friday, November 21, both premises had their licence to sell alcohol revoked after it was deemed by the committee that they were unfit to hold a licence.
The stores have 21 days to appeal the decision.
PC Rob Sparkes, from Bedfordshire Police’s Licensing Team, said: “This is another excellent example of partnership and multi-agency working.
“We are particularly pleased to take these potentially dangerous counterfeit cigarettes off the streets. The authorities have lost confidence in these shops selling products such as cigarettes and alcohol, which is why their drink licence has been removed.
“Counterfeit cigarettes are particularly dangerous as the ingredients used come from unknown sources and have been found in many cases to contain non-tobacco vegetable matter and even faeces.”
Anyone with information relating to illicit, counterfeit or non-duty paid cigarettes and alcohol should contact PC Rob Sparkes, in confidence, at Bedfordshire Police on 101, or text information to 07786 200011.
Alternatively you can contact the independent crime fighting charity, Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.