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DODGY DEALERS: Watford businesses found with illegal cigarettes and counterfeit clothes

 Published on: 31st August 2023   |   By: Darius Morgan   |   Category: Uncategorized

A web of illegal undertakings by Watford businesses has been exposed following a three-pronged investigation.

A number of town businesses could see their licenses reviewed after a damning investigation by the Community Safety Unit (CSU) at Watford Police Station, Hertfordshire Trading Standards and Watford Borough Council’s licensing team.

From April 1 to June 30, 2023, spot checks were carried out on more than 80 businesses to monitor compliance with trading laws and the terms of their premises licences.

A shocking 65 per cent of these businesses were found to have broken the terms of their licenses in some way, with a large quantity of tax-evaded and illegal vapes, cigarettes, rolling tobacco, counterfeit clothing, and alcohol seized.

Illicit stock was often discovered hidden behind tills and in roof spaces, offices and vehicles.

Jo Tomkins, Police Senior Licensing Officer in the CSU, said: “We work closely with our partners at Hertfordshire Trading Standards to enforce the terms and conditions of the premises licences in Watford and to ensure they are trading safely and legally. Businesses in Watford have a responsibility and duty of care to their customers and the wider community. They should not be involved in activities that exacerbate local crime levels and undermine the licensing objectives.

“People rarely think about the hidden cost of illicit cigarettes or alcohol, as they often finance organised crime. We will continue to pursue those who commit tobacco fraud and avoid paying tax.”

Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “When businesses fail to comply with the rules so they can avoid tax, or sell illicit or counterfeit goods, they let their customers and the community down. They also make life harder for the businesses in our town who do follow the rules.

“We work closely with Hertfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Trading Standards to make sure premises are complying with the conditions on their licences. Where we find that unlicensed activities are being carried out, we will investigate and take appropriate enforcement action.”

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire Trading Standards said: “If you suspect that a premises is trading illegally, email as much information as possible to tradingstandards@hertfordshire.gov.uk. It will then be passed to the local Trading Standards Officer for review.”

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