Hartlepool Borough Council’s Trading Standards department has joined forces with Cleveland Police in a joint operation targeting the sale of counterfeit and illicit tobacco.


The partnership led to a number of premises in the area being targeted using a specially-trained dog unit that can recognise and identify counterfeit tobacco, with a “significant number” of items seized from one of the sites visited.

The council’s trading standards and licensing manager Ian Harrison said: “The sale of illegal tobacco not only has a detrimental impact on local communities but it helps fund a number of other illegal activities whilst removing sales and income from genuine shops and suppliers.

“Hartlepool Trading Standards will continue to work with Cleveland Police to ensure businesses in the area comply with the law to ensure a level playing field for consumers and businesses alike.”

PC Geoff Coggin from Hartlepool Neighbourhood Policing Team added: “This joint operation saw us using specially-trained search dogs to assist with our warrants and target those suspected of being involved with illicit tobacco.

“New search puppies Griff and Kevin also attended the warrants as trainees. “We know the sale of illicit cigarettes causes harm in our communities and has links to organised crime. We would encourage anyone with information to speak to police on 101. Alternatively you can speak to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and you don’t even have to give your name.”

According to a study conducted independently by KPMG and commissioned by Philip Morris International, illicit cigarettes cost the UK government almost £2bn in 2020.