Councillors have suspended the licence of a Boston shop in which police officers discovered a hide behind a counter containing a stash of illegal cigarettes.
Boston Council's licensing sub-committee took the action just a day after they had revoked the licence of another store for similar issues.
The latest action saw Tatry in West Street, Boston, have its alcohol licence suspended for two months.
Police asked the council to review the licence after the illegal haul of cigarettes, which was discovered after officers made test purchase and then raided the shop.
After hearing police evidence they agreed with the police that the premises had been actively involved in the illegal sale of illicit cigarettes.
They accepted that there was nothing to link the new owner of the store to the illegal sales, but expressed concerns with his ability to run the business, and believed this undermined the licensing objectives and the decision was taken to suspend the licence and remove the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS), police said in a statement.
Police say the store was targeted by them and two test purchase operations were carried out, with plainclothes volunteers purchasing illegal cigarettes on both occasions. The store was then raided and officers discovered an electronic “Hide” behind the counter. Controlled by a key fob this store would hide the illicit cigarettes behind the small display of legal products for sale. Thousands of illegal cigarettes were seized
Sergeant Kim Enderby, Alcohol Licensing Manager for the County said, “This is the third discovery of an electronic “Hide” in Boston following our series of raids. Biedronka 77a, High Street, Boston, who had their licence revoked on 3rd October 2018, had a similar device and we also located a“Hide” earlier this week in an unlicensed shop in the town. The criminals involved in this activity are increasing; attempting more sophisticated methods to conceal their illegal activity. The cigarettes seized were a mixture of non-duty, counterfeit and illicit cigarettes. The counterfeit and illicit cigarettes fail health and safety regulations, do not self-extinguish and have in the past been found to contain rat droppings, sawdust or human excrement mixed in with the tobacco.
"Although the new owner was not directly linked to the criminal activity, he had employed the same individual as DPS. This male had worked there whilst the cigarettes were being sold and was not suitable to hold the role of DPS. Our activity has resulted in a large quantity of cigarettes being taken out of circulation and all links to the criminals involved being severed. It also sends a clear message that we expect all licensed premises to be run legally and owners must know their responsibilities within the Licensing Act.
"Lincolnshire Police will continue to actively target all licensed premises involved in this dangerous criminal activity. We have a number of similar Review Hearings taking places across the County following earlier raids. We are also busy planning our next operations and those involved in the sale of these illicit items can expect to be targeted. I would ask the public to report any suspicious activity of this type and help the Police to identify the criminals involved in selling illegal and dangerous items. We remain committed to the disruption, investigation and prosecution of all criminal activity being conducted on our Licensed Premises."