A cross-party group of MPs and peers has launched a formal inquiry into the state of illicit trade in the UK.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Illicit Trade has opened a consultation to collect the views and insights of businesses, law enforcement and consumer groups.

They are seeking to identify:

  • the main drivers of illicit trade;
  • the impact of illicit trade on business, law enforcement and consumers;
  • the level of importance the Government places on tackling illicit trade; and
  • what steps the Government is taking to tackle illicit trade and how this could be improved.

The group will produce a formal report with recommendations that seek to improve the UK’s approach to tackling illicit trade.

Matthew Offord MP, chair of the group, said: “Illicit trade exists in every constituency, and as parliamentarians we have a duty to investigate what impact this has on consumers, businesses and our public authorities.

“I’m delighted by huge amount of support the APPG for Illicit Trade has received since it was established last year. This shows that illicit trade is a major issue that needs addressing.

“This inquiry is a key opportunity for organisations on the frontline to tell us their views and ideas for how we can be more effective at tackling illicit trade. Our report will make a series of recommendations that we hope will influence policies for dealing with illicit trade for the years ahead.”

PA Consulting Group is providing advice to the group and will support the production of the report.

Steve Carden, anti-illicit trade expert at PA Consulting Group, said: “It’s great to see parliamentarians being proactive about tackling illicit trade. We’re pleased to have the opportunity to use our global experience in technology innovation and regulatory environments, to support better policy decisions in the UK.”

The inquiry has been welcomed by many major organisations from a range of different sectors. Julian Hunt, vice president, public affairs and communications at Coca-Cola European Partners, said: “We are concerned that one of the unintended consequences of the introduction of the Government’s tax on the category is that it may encourage the illicit import and sale of many popular soft drinks brands attracting the Government’s tax from April onwards.

“We hope this inquiry will raise awareness of the importance of compliance with the new legislation and identify ways in which the Government can take steps to stop disreputable traders selling soft drinks on which the tax hasn’t been paid.”