Parliamentarians at Westminster are forming a new cross-party group to raise issues around the illicit trade up the political agenda.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which will be made up of peers and MPs from across the political spectrum, will look at some of the key issues and drivers behind illicit trade across a range of sectors. The APPG will explore supply and demand side and will look to bring fresh impetus and ideas to tackling such issues.

The group will look to undertake a number of inquiries each year in order to deliver workable recommendations designed to assist government, law enforcement, the private sector and ultimately consumers in tackling illicit trade.

Matthew Offord MP for Hendon who is setting up the Group said: “Illicit trade impacts on everyone no matter what business they are in and no matter if they are a multinational corporation, a small high street shop, a consumer or a taxpayer. I’ve been out in my own constituency and seen at first hand the impact that counterfeit audio visual and smuggled tobacco is having. It takes away custom from legitimate businesses while putting at greater risk those people who buy it. We also know that organised crime gangs are behind such seemingly low level and innocuous activities.

“The group will act as an important vehicle in Parliament to shine a light on some of the more intractable issues including whether the current approaches employed by Government and law enforcement are up to the job. Indeed, some of the losses to the public finances due to illicit trade are staggering – costing taxpayers’ hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

“I intend for the group to look at key issues in some detail and come up with new ideas on how they could be tackled including what works in other countries and the use of new technology.”

The group will have advice from PA Consulting Group. Dr Steven Carden, anti-illicit trade expert at PA, commented: “Human behaviours, evolving technologies and regulatory environments are all part of the challenges as well as the solutions for combatting illicit trade. PA Consulting Group is very pleased to be supporting this new All Party-Parliamentary Group, and we look forward to providing expert independent advice based on learnings from other countries and activities we have previously undertaken in this field.”

The inaugural meeting of the Illicit Trade APPG will be on 5th September when officers of the group will be nominated and chosen. A later meeting in the autumn will be scheduled to agree the work programme and will be open to all parties with an interest in tackling the illicit trade to attend and contribute.