Sleaford store has licence revoked for selling illegal cigarettes

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A Sleaford convenience store has become the tenth business in the county to have its alcohol licence revoked this year following a raid by Lincolnshire Police.

Baltic Food, of White Hart Mews, Sleaford, had their alcohol premises licence revoked on Wednesday, September 7, following the raid by Lincolnshire Police Alcohol Licensing Team in which a large quantity of contraband cigarettes was seized.

According to Lincolnshire Police, the team submitted paperwork for a Licence Review Hearing held in front of North Kesteven District Council Licensing Sub-Committee.

This was backed up by Trading Standards who had concerns about the safety of the foreign cigarette brands seized as they did not self-extinguish if left unattended in line with British safety standards, deeming them dangerous. Nor did any of the packets seized bear any of the required health warnings or pictorial warnings.

After hearing all the evidence the licensing sub-committee agreed with the police that the premises had been actively involved in the illegal sale of smuggled cigarettes. Because of this they believed they were failing to promote the licensing objectives and their licence was revoked.

It was reported to the committee that an undercover test purchase operation was conducted on March 18, 2016. A police volunteer entered the store and was able to purchase a packet of foreign labelled contraband cigarettes. A second purchase of cigarettes was made on July 8, 2016 followed by officers immediately raiding the store. 2,360 cigarettes were seized alongside a quantity of hand rolling tobacco. The seized items were recovered hidden under the counter, within the stock room at the rear of the store and inside the owner’s car parked outside. Lincolnshire Police confirmed no legitimate cigarettes were on sale at the premises.

Sergeant Kim Enderby from the Alcohol Licensing Team said afterwards: “This was an intelligence lead operation acting on intelligence from the local community that the store was selling foreign cigarettes. All the cigarette products seized were illicit items that cannot legally be sold in this country.

“They fail the required health and safety regulations, will not self-extinguish and have been linked to an increase in house fire. “Criminal gangs are responsible for the smuggling and distribution of cigarettes of this type, using the profits to fund other criminal behaviour.

“This is the tenth licence to be revoked in the County this year, sending a clear message that criminal behaviour of any type will not be tolerated.”

There is a 21 day appeal process; if no appeal is submitted then the revocation comes into action.