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    Three Hartlepool c-stores closed over illicit tobacco trade

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    Closure orders have been served to three stores in Hartlepool over persistent selling illicit and counterfeit tobacco to customers. 

    According to Trading Standards Officers in Hartlepool, closure orders are granted against three shops in the town following reports that the staff sold illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

    Raby Mini Market, on Raby Road, and Kobani Mini Market on Murray Street, have each been served with three-month closure orders by Teesside Magistrates Court. This follows the closure order of the International Food Store, also on Murray Street, in late July.

    Evidence submitted to the court showed that all three shops were part of an organised chain of shops that were linked to the sales of illegal cigarettes and tobacco in Hartlepool and beyond. The magistrate also heard that a courier system was in place, which saw the illegal cigarettes and tobacco stored away from the shops and delivered quickly for potential purchase, stated reports. 

    The council’s trading standards officials work closely with other enforcement partners such as Cleveland Police and Cleveland Fire Brigade.

    A spokesperson for Hartlepool Borough Council, said, ‘‘These three closure orders are testament to the hard work and dedication of our trading standards officers in keeping the people of Hartlepool safe.

    “A lot of work and intelligence has gone into securing these closure orders against businesses that are determined to profiteer from selling dangerous and harmful illegal cigarettes and tobacco on the streets of Hartlepool.’’

    Chief Inspector Pete Littlewood, from Cleveland Police said, “The sale of illegal smoking, vaping and tobacco products puts the public at risk.  These products invariably end up in the hands of the most vulnerable people in our community – our children.

     “Cleveland Police will continue to work with our partners to address this issue, and we welcome these closure orders obtained through excellent work from Hartlepool Borough Council’s Trading Standards team.”

    The Closure Order will remain in force for a period of three months. A breach is punishable with an unlimited fine, imprisonment of up to 6 months or both.

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