Criminal trade: Hundreds of bottles of wine, spirits and cigarettes seized from Milton Keynes stores

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Illicit alcohol and cigarettes were seized from city off-licences and convenience stores during a joint operation.

Officers from Milton Keynes Council’s licensing and trading standards departments teamed up with officers from HM revenue and Customs (HMRC), Thames Valley Police (TVP) and a specialist tobacco detection dog from Wagtail UK, to inspect 39 premises.

HMRC seized more than 780 illicit cigarettes, 15 Kilos of Shisha Tobacco, 2.5 Kilos of ‘chewing tobacco’, 348 litres of wine, 41 Litres of Beer and 227 litres of Spirits amounting to a total revenue loss prevented (Duty & VAT) of approximately £6,000.

Officers made checks for compliance with licensing and trading standards legislation and searched for illegal or non-duty paid alcohol and cigarettes.

In total, 15 premises were found to be operating in breach of premises licence conditions and seven breaching trading standards legislation.

Chris Londy, MKC’s Head of Environmental Health and Trading Standards, said: “We will continue to crack down on non-compliant premises, but we will also work with them to ensure they are selling alcohol responsibility and safely in the community.”

Jim O’Ryan, Deputy Area Commander Thames Valley Police Milton Keynes Local Police Area, added: “TVP will continue to work with our partners to keep the people of Milton Keynes safe.

“As well as targeting those retailers who flaunt the law by selling non duty paid alcohol and cigarettes we will target the criminal gangs behind these offences.”

Peter Millroy, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco and alcohol will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies.

“Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2 billion a year, and the sale of illicit alcohol which costs the UK around £1 billion per year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.

“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”