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Indie and his nose and the temple of booze

On 19 September officers from Waltham Forest Council’s Trading Standards service, accompanied by officers from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and a representative from the International Federation of Spirit Producers, carried out visits to a number of retail premises in the borough.

The purpose of the exercise was to determine whether illicit alcohol and tobacco products were being offered for sale, and with the assistance of a trained sniffer dog called Indie, these ‘Raiders of the lost duty’ found and seized illicit tobacco and alcohol from two borough premises.

Cigarettes subject to tax evasion, which bore foreign health warnings, were taken from under shop counters and in a store room in one shop. In another premises 12,000 tax evaded mixed branded cigarettes were found. Alcohol bearing counterfeit duty stamps was also found on display for sale and seized by Trading Standards.  

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, said, “Retailers who buy dodgy goods out the back of a van to sell in their shops need to realise we’re not just going to sit back and let them get away with it. Working with our partners we will hunt down people who think they can palm our residents off with, at best, sub-standard goods, and at worst products that could present a serious risk to health.

“Unregulated goods are often impossible to trace back if things go wrong and it is widely accepted that many of the profits derived from counterfeit and illicit goods lead directly back to organised crime. As well as our residents, legitimate businesses in the borough that are playing by the rules are also affected by this illicit trade.”

Illicit alcohol and tobacco is a growing problem and comes in two forms. Some goods are counterfeit but made to look genuine, while others are genuine, but the appropriate tax has not been paid.

The UK duty stamp aims to tackle fraud, indicating that tax has been paid or is due to be paid on the products to which this tax applies. Alcohol duty fraud is where goods scheduled for sale abroad are diverted back into UK shops which results in tax revenue losses and creates an unfair trading environment for honest traders.

Foreign safety warnings or no health warnings at all, are indicators of counterfeit or illegal cigarettes – all packets of cigarettes, cigars and hand rolling tobacco require pictorial health warnings.

Needless to say this will not be the ‘Last crusade’ carried out by these intrepid officers, with more operations planned for later in the year, so any shopkeepers harbouring illicit goods be warned – they could be coming to a premises near you!

Any resident that suspects they have bought fake goods or alcohol and tobacco on which the appropriate duty has not been paid should report the matter to Waltham Forest Trading Standards on 0208 496 3000 or by emailing

PHOTO: Just some of the illicit goods discovered as part of the recent operation involving Waltham Forest Trading Standards.

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