Published on January 6th, 2016 | by Dean Carr
Humberside Police clampdown on counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes
A Hull convenience store has been stripped of its alcohol licence after two seizures of counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes in just three months.
Hull City Councillors voted unanimously to revoke the off-licence for Biedronka in Hessle Road, west Hull.
They took the action after hearing concerns from Humberside Police over the possible role of the shop in a widespread and sophisticated criminal network involving smuggled and counterfeit foreign-labelled cigarettes.
An initial haul of smuggled goods was found at the shop in October during a routine inspection by the council’s trading standards department.
Officers found unlabelled cigarettes in a cardboard box beneath the shop counter and another box containing cigarettes and pouches of tobacco in a storeroom.
At the time, the shop’s premises licence holder, Nali Baban, of Hawthorn Avenue, west Hull, denied knowing about either box, even though he was the only person working there.
Last month, another stash of counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco were discovered behind a specially installed electronically operated shelving system in a rear room at the property.
Police solicitor Stephen Hodgson said: “It is an extraordinary case in respect of someone knowing they had been found out once and knowing they had come before this committee for a licence review then going on to have this sophisticated mechanism installed to hide further offending.”
He said the device was not something you could simply pick up at a DIY store.
“It is our belief that Mr Baban has some sort of connection with people involved at a higher level with this sort of activity.”
Councillors on the authority’s licensing sub-committee heard no illicit alcohol was found during either visit.
But Mr Hodgson said revoking the shop’s licence to sell alcohol was the right thing to do.
He said: “Although we are talking about counterfeit tobacco here, it does not take any great leap of imagination to conclude that, if this man is determined to sell counterfeit tobacco, it would only be a matter of time before he started selling counterfeit alcohol.
“These things often go hand in hand.”
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.
Mr Baban declined to comment at the hearing.
The featured picture taken by Simon Renilson shows Sergeant Dave Weekes of Humberside Police outside Biedronka in Hessle Road, west Hull.
News Source: Hull Daily Mail
Picture: Simon Renilson