A multiagency operation starting late on Saturday 22 July 2017, has seen West Yorkshire Trading Standards, West Yorkshire Police and Wagtail UK tobacco detection dogs seizing over 60,000 illicit cigarettes and more than 25kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco, with an estimated street value of more than £20,000, off the streets in Huddersfield. Drugs as well as more than £10,000 worth of cash was seized.
Operation Torrward aimed to crack down on anti-social behaviour and the supply of illegal tobacco in Huddersfield. The operation targeted hot spot areas and businesses identified from intelligence and complaints passed to West Yorkshire Trading Standards.
If genuine, the value of the cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco seized would be in excess of £50,000.
The operation was part of a wider programme called the Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme which is funded by the five Public Health authorities in West Yorkshire. The programme which is in its third year utilises marketing campaigns and multi-agency enforcement to tackle the problems of the illicit trade.
To date the programme has taken more than 1.9 million illegal cigarettes and over 720kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco off the streets. With more inspections planned in West Yorkshire over the coming weeks these figures are likely to increase.
Councillor Shabir Pandor, of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said; “The illegal sale of tobacco in communities enables and encourages young children to buy it cheaply. It is great that so many partners are working to tackle traders that break the law. I would like to thank members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in our communities.”
David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards said, “All tobacco is harmful, but the supply of illegal cigarettes seriously undermines the drive to reduce smoking, fuels organised criminality and is often a gateway for young people to becoming addicted to a habit which prematurely kills over half its users. I would encourage the public to continue reporting this type of activity to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 and fulfil their role in protecting our future generations.”
PC Steve Nicholls of Kirklees District Police, who lead the Operation, said: “We are incredibly pleased with the results achieved on Saturday night – it was a great success. A lot of planning went into this operation with our partner agencies. I would like to thank them all for their support and expertise up to and during the weekend. Many of the officers, Specials and PCSOs came into work on their days off to support the operation, which was greatly appreciated. The items which were seized at market value came to several thousand pounds and we were able to make the streets of Huddersfield safer by taking illegal and illicit cigarettes and counterfeit goods from the shelves.”