Police are urging councillors to look at revoking the licences of two shops on Boston’s West Street over the sale of illicit cigarettes and alcohol.
Both shops had secret hatches - or ‘hides’ - where cigarettes that had been illegally imported without paying duty, and that were classed as counterfeit and unsafe were stored.
One was also found to be selling strong lager at prices cheaper than the legally mandatory minimum level.
Members of Boston Council’s licensing sub-committee will review the premises licence of the Biedronka and Tatry shops at two separate hearings today (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday).
Lincolnshire Police have called for the review after officers found the illegal trading going on at both shops, and in a report from Chief Constable Bill Skelly, the force asks that serious consideration be given to revoking the licences in both cases.
The reports come only a matter of weeks after an application for a new drinks licence for a different shop on West Street was granted, despite local concerns about the impact of the number of shops selling alcohol on the street.
The police report on Biedronka, which councillors are due to discuss at 1pm today, states that in March, officers conducted a test purchase and bought a packet of foreign branded cigarettes.
A second test purchase in August saw two packets of illegal foreign cigarettes bought, and officers then entered the store and a large quantity of illicit cigarettes were discovered located stacked inside a purpose built ‘hide’ in a bathroom wall. They were a mix of non-duty paid and illicit counterfeit cigarettes, a quantity of which were classed as dangerous unsafe products that don’t meet UK safety standards.
Five bottles of vodka without a duty stamp were seized as suspected smuggled goods, and three types of high-strength beer were found to be on sale below the mandatory price.
“This leads us to believe the items are smuggled, as the onus is on the owner to prove they are not,” the report states.
The report on Tatry, which councillors will consider at 1pm tomorrow, says police received intelligence the store was selling illegal cigarettes.
A test purchase in March saw the purchase of a pack of foreign-branded cigarettes bought.
A second test purchase operation in July saw two illegal foreign-branded packs bought, and officers immediately entered the store.
They seized a large quantity of illicit cigarettes, some in boxes behind the serving counter, but a quantity was once again found stacked in what police describes as a ‘sophisticated electronic hide’, operated by a key hub, built into a shelving display.
The cigarettes were a mix of non-duty paid and counterfeit cigarettes.
None had the legally required English health warnings, and some were classed as dangerous products failing to meet UK safety standards.
The report states that when interviewed, the licence holder Mr Kadir initially denied knowledge of the cigarettes or the hide, but eventually conceded the store was involved in the sale of illegal cigarettes.
The report quotes him as saying: “Everyone does it, loads of shops do it.”