[C]umbria’s trade in illegal tobacco took a hit today following an operation on Carlisle’s Botchergate led by county council Trading Standards officers. In a first for Carlisle, officers were supported by Mollie, a trained tobacco sniffer dog.
The team, including officers from Cumbria Police, targeted 4 shops/takeaways on Botchergate identified via intelligence supplied to Trading Standards. With the assistance of Mollie’s expert nose over 1000 illegal cigarettes were found in one of the premises. Officers seized the tobacco and are now reviewing whether to pursue prosecutions.
Trading Standards regularly target illegal tobacco sales across the county. In the last year Trading Standards have seized over 70,000 counterfeit cigarettes and 1,600 pouches of hand rolling tobacco from the streets of Cumbria.
Will Hayhurst, Regulation and Compliance Officer with Cumbria Trading Standards, said: “This was successful operation and having Mollie really helped. People selling illegal tobacco don’t have it in plain view; it’s hidden on the premises or often in vehicles. Using the sniffer dog gives a real advantage, she can pinpoint where it’s stashed and we can then get in, through walls, under floors, or wherever it is, to recover it. This is all about getting this tobacco off the street and creating a hostile environment for the perpetrators. We’re sending a clear message: we won’t tolerate illegal tobacco in Cumbria.”
Mollie the sniffer dog is Border Collie X Spaniel bitch. She works for Wagtail UK Limited and has been involved in operations across the north of England. The use of sniffer dogs is an important weapon in the fight against illegal tobacco. People can report suspected illegal tobacco sales to the Consumer Advice Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.