Five shops in Gateshead have been ordered to close their doors for three months after magistrates heard evidence about the problems caused by their illegal tobacco sales.
The closure orders were granted at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on Nov 10, following applications made by the council’s Trading Standards team. The closure orders, issued under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, apply to Lava Store in Dunston, Felling Store in Felling, Old Durham Road Mini Market, King Mini Market in Bensham and Yusuf Mini Market in Bensham.
Councilor Kevin Dodds, Chair of the Regulatory Committee and the Tyne and Wear Trading Standards Joint Committee, said, “Selling illegal tobacco products is a serious offence and will not be tolerated in Gateshead.
Illegal tobacco sales are harmful to our communities in many different ways. Availability, lack of regulation and cheap prices make smoking more accessible to children, creating addictions from an early age. We can’t overlook the fact that tobacco kills more than half of its long-term users and most smokers start in childhood – and regret it.
The illegal tobacco trade can also fund drug supply chains and other serious organised crime. We will continue to take reports of these activities seriously and work with our policing partners to act on them.”
Inspector Gillian Fenney-Menzies, of Northumbria Police, said: “This is an excellent example of partnership working, which has helped to remove illegal products from a number of stores in the Gateshead area. Some people may think that the selling of counterfeit goods is a victimless crime, but quite often these items can be a product of organised crime.
Groups can supply them into the region with the intention of making money, which then enables them to continue to fund their illicit activities.
We are committed to pursuing criminals and protecting our communities as part of Operation Sentinel, our collaborative approach to tackling serious and organised crime, and we will continue to work with all of our partners to prevent and disrupt these groups.”
The shops will be closed until 10 February 2024.