OVER1,000 litres of beer and spirits, along with cigarettes, were seized in a crack down on Morecambe shops selling non UK duty items.
Officers from Lancashire Constabulary’s licensing team worked in conjunction with officers from the Ports Unit and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to carry out the operation targeting off-licences in the town’s West End area.
The activity was carried out as part of Lancashire Police’s on-going crack down on violent crime.
Amongst the items seized were 972 litres of beer, 33.75 litres of wine, 14 litres of vodka, 3.5 litres of whisky and 2,060 cigarettes. A number of immigration offences were also discovered and will be investigated by the UK Border Agency.
PC Graeme Cheetham, licensing officer, said: “Violent crime is often fuelled by drink and we continually work towards making licensees and their staff more aware of their responsibilities when it comes to selling alcohol.
“Shops that sell illicit alcohol usually do so at a knock down price – and pay scant regard to making a responsible sale. This can then lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and violent behaviour which is why we are working with these other agencies to crack down on this problem.”
Graham Forbes, HMRC special investigations manager, said: “Smugglers and counterfeiters cheat the country of revenue vital to funding public services like hospitals and schools. This illicit trade also has a devastating impact on honest retailers.
“We’re keen to work closely with local people and communities in the fight against this type of crime and would encourage anyone who knows of someone selling cheap or duty free cigarettes and alcohol to contact the Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This seizure equates to approximately £1,500 in evaded UK duty alone and enquiries into those responsible continue.’’