The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed a new crackdown on the illicit trade in tobacco and alcohol announced by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We believe that any retailer who sells non-duty paid alcohol or tobacco should be subject to the full force of the law. This new wave of activity from HMRC is a welcome sign, and their commitment to working with licensing authorities gives hope that more retailers selling illicit alcohol and tobacco will lose their licence.”
In announcing the crackdown, HMRC director general of enforcement and compliance Jennie Granger said: “Tobacco and alcohol fraud costs taxpayers £3bn in lost revenue each year, as well as breeding criminality and undermining honest, legitimate traders.
“This HMRC led activity will bring together specialists from across a range of law enforcement agencies to identify and tackle the problem of illegal tobacco and alcohol in our communities targeting areas we know are hotspots of illegal activity.”
The enforcement operations will involve officers carrying out checks on shops, warehouses, self-storage sites, businesses and workplaces suspected of being used to sell, store, supply or distribute illicit tobacco or alcohol. Owners of premises where illicit goods are found face seizure of goods, fines, and a possible prosecution.
ACS is part of a wider group of stakeholders who are working with HMRC to ensure that retailers are aware of the dangers of engaging with the illicit trade. ACS has also produced guidance for retailers on how to spot non duty paid alcohol, along with an explanation of the penalties for those who sell these products.